NEW YORK – It’s been a whirlwind, New York City kind of day for Mitt Romney, including a celebrity funeral, slices of pizza and a curse-word screaming -protester.
The presumptive GOP nominee cris-crossed the island of Manhattan, holding a private meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the Upper East Side, attending TV legend Mike Wallace’s memorial service on the West Side, and then scooting downtown to pick up a few pizzas with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, later delivering them to a SoHo firehouse.
The purpose of the New York visit was to mark the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing, and Romney and Giuliani delivered remarks outside Engine 24/Ladder 5, where 11 firemen died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and where the former mayor held his first press conference following the attacks, setting up a temporary command center at the firehouse.
The two were at first shouted down by a protester, who screamed the F word at Romney and called him a “racist.”
But the press conference was marked more by Romney’s appearance with Giuliani.
“It’s an honor to be here with the mayor, to acknowledge these men and women who serve as our first responders, who rush to danger as opposed to rushing from it, and this, of course, is on the anniversary of the day when Osama Bin Laden finally was taken out,” said Romney. “And we respect and admire the many people who were part of that, from the President who authorized that attack to the intelligence community that worked on it for so many years to identify where he was, and of course to the members of our armed services, particularly Seal Team Six that took the extraordinary risk of going into Pakistan and removing one of the world’s worst characters.”
Romney, who recalled visiting Manhattan in December after the attacks, bringing the Olympic torch to burn in the city on Christmas Day, didn’t resist repeating his criticism of President Obama’s campaign for suggesting in a video that Romney himself may not have ordered the attack on bin Laden.
“I think it’s totally appropriate for the President to express to the American people the view that he has, that he had an important role in taking out Osama Bin Laden. I think politicizing it was…and trying to draw a distinction between himself and myself was an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together, which was the elimination of Osama Bin Laden,” said Romney, who took a few questions from the press before leaving the firehouse.
While staying on message at the solemn firehouse stop, not all of Romney’s day in the Big Apple was quite so serious.
After meeting with Bloomberg – a meeting Romney said included a “very nice chat” that came without an endorsement – the candidate and Giuliani dropped by Joe’s Pizza parlor in the West Village, ordering six pizzas, a variation of cheese, sausage and pepperoni slices, to go.
“Joe, what do we owe you for this?” Mr. Romney asked the restaurant’s owner, Pino Pozzuoli, who insisted that the pizza was on him.
Giuliani quickly chimed in, “If you don’t charge him, it’ll cause trouble.”
Romney forked over the cash — $136 worth, to be sure, plus a tip – and went on his way, balancing a stack of pizza pies out to his waiting motorcade.
Arriving at the firehouse, pizzas still in hand, Romney and Giuliani met privately with some of the firemen, who according to the campaign poked fun at the candidate’s penchant for Boston Red Sox.
After taking a few questions, Romney was off again – en route to Philadelphia to attend an evening fundraiser.
“I didn’t know you were still here, but we’re going different directions, but thank you, mayor,” said Romney, popping out of his motorcade to say goodbye to Giuliani. “Appreciate your help. We’ll keep battling.”
“Go get ‘em,” Giuliani responded.