BROWARD COUNTY, FLA. -- "They always want to know if I have foreign policy experience," Rudy Giuliani says between pitches. "I taught the prime minister of Japan how to throw out a first ball."
Rudy Giuliani, even on the day of the most important primary of his campaign, has to put down the politics for a moment and play a little ball with his buddies.
While three dozen journalists were packed into a tiny call center of his Broward County campaign office four floors up, they were unaware that Giuliani was down in the parking lot working on his two-seam fastball.
The morning sun over Miami was just breaking through the clouds. It was quiet. A few laughs here and there. Smiles from his new friend Jon Voight. Giuliani's security – New York cops who have been with him for years – shagged a few balls.
It was a serene moment compared to a half hour before at diner press availability in Miami. A loud, echoing jumble of pressing reporters and cramped cameras; incessant questions about dragging numbers; every journalist trying to eke an answer out of Giuliani to know if he'll quit or go on tomorrow, depending on how Florida votes.
Giuliani had tried to look as little annoyed as possible, but his tone became firmer.
"We're going to concentrate on today, today alone. We're not going to deal with hypothetical questions. It would be counterproductive to do that," he said over a bowl of raisin bran.
"We're going to win today – that's our answer, that's our objective. And we're headed to California tomorrow to continue to campaign."
But less than an hour later, outside of his campaign bus with a Rawlings baseball in his hand, gripping the seems, Giuliani seemed like politics could not be further from his mind, and that he was allowing himself a rare mental rest from the horserace.
He held the same brand of ball he had signed and left for reporters on his press plane yesterday, some of whom decided to interpret it as parting gift and blog about how they felt like Giuliani was saying goodbye.
The networks picked that detail up and suddenly Giuliani was being asked by several anchors on morning shows why he had given out baseballs.
When Giuliani finished with the television spots, he asked one of his campaign staffers, "Why was the news about baseballs?"
His campaign had only intended it as a nice gesture.
Meanwhile, Giuliani was winding up and threw a pitch to a campaign staffer, who caught it with no glove.
"That's a strike!" said Giuliani's longtime companion and most loyal stumper in Florida, state attorney general Bill McCollum, who has campaigned with Giuliani and barely left his side when the Mayor's steps into his state.
It was a side that hasn't been seen by the media, and usually because the media kills the moment with questions. As I watched along with a single other cameraman, no one said a word for a good five minutes – until a local reporter came over to break the silence and ask about early voting.
Giuliani answered, and as the moment fleeted of Giuliani taking part in one of his greatest loves, a simple little game called baseball, he signed the ball and took the elevator up to the hoard waiting for him.