FORT MYERS, FLA. -- It's do or die time and Rudy Giuliani's campaign is running on jet fuel. Taking to the skies over Florida with a 727 and X-ing off campaign stops throughout the state, it's time for a fight or to burn out bright. So it makes sense that he has brought out his big guns.
Giuliani showed up this morning with Gov. Rick Perry, R-Tex., as if to say: You're not going to endorse me Florida governor Charlie Crist? Well I got a governor from Texas, more than three times the size of your state, and show you what a governor's endorsement is all about.
Perry even pulled his pantleg up for the crowd to show them the gleam from his black set of...well..."stuff"-kicking boots.
You think Chuck Norris is an actor? Giuliani gives you Oscar winner Jon Voight, who dishes with reporters at the back of the plane on how Woodstock was a bunch of insane liberal bunk.
Giuliani has nothing to lose in the next 24 hours. Polls show John McCain and Mitt Romney with double the poll numbers in Florida than Giuliani, but he is staying on the positive and refusing to attack. Main message: he's doing it his way or he's not doing it at all.
"Here the thing to remember -- I'm the person who gets things done!" yells Giuliani to a quaint but riled group of people who took off work to show up and support the former mayor.
It's what he hasn't done that has echoed loudest throughout the past month. Giuliani has refused to rip down his rivals and has stayed positive. But one day before a primary that could end his presidential run, Giuliani is saying "no" once again to attacking his candidates, except to criticize them for doing that very thing.
"I'm sick and tired of all this negative campaigning!" shouts Giuliani.
Reporters have struggled with Giuliani for months -- begging for more time to question "The Mayor" as he is respectfully addressed by both staff and the media (almost no one but the voters call him Rudy).
He rarely gives one on ones with members of the national media, and when he does, he's harder to crack than the TSA security that guards his airplane.
But to his credit, in what could be the final moments of his campaign, as the pundits Giuliani openly mocks might believe, he did and continues to do it his way. Despite the fact that he's been repeating the same stump speech for the last six months -- redundancy is the kiss of death in keeping up with the runaway locomotive of today's news cycle -- and hasn't stopped.
Everywhere he goes, it's about his "Twelve Commitments to the American People," which he laid out back in April. Who knows if anyone besides his staff even knows them all? But he touted them over and over again -- cutting taxes, ending illegal immigration, reducing government, appointing strict constructionist (or just plain conservative as he said) judges, moving toward energy independence, and the big one -- keeping the country safe from a war we currently fight but a war Giuliani felt needed a name change: "The Terrorists' War On Us."
And he took his most defining moment of leadership, the one that aside from the presidency itself, would still keep him in the pages of American history for future generations -- September 11th, 2001 -- and said "here's what I did, here's how I led -- I could lead you as president too."
So now, as he ratchets up his final campaign days in Florida -- over fifty to date, and way past the number of his fellow rivals who lead in the polls -- it's a full throttle finish as if he's back at the Daytona International Speedway.
And once he makes it to the end, he's got his wife, his close inner circle of friends, and the knowledge that he stuck with his message and didn't court a press corps that has criticized him deeply and dissected his life, his career, his politics, and his personality thoroughly.
So he's leaving it up to Florida -- it's their call. My first press event as a reporter traveling with the Giuliani campaign was in Orlando back in September, and that day Giuliani said "Florida is important."
He said the same thing today, and meant it just as much. We'll see what Florida says in return tomorrow night.