CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA -- In his first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to relate his experiences taming one of the toughest cities in the world to the difficulties of revitalizing a struggling neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, population 123,000.
Manhattan vs. the Midwest
"This could be a neighborhood in Queens," Giuliani said during a neighborhood stroll through the city's Southeast Side, where the former mayor walked with neighborhood association leaders.
"No jaywalking!" he jokingly yelled as his group and accompanying media throngs walked across First Avenue, Northeast.
"This reminds me of New York," the former Mayor said as he approached a park and read a familiar sign: "'Dog must be on leash.'"
"I sometimes wonder when you have to watch where you walk," said a local community activist.
Asked the mayor: "Is there a poopy scooper law?"
It may sound like a silly question, but Giuliani was there to share with Iowans the "broken windows" theory of policing that worked so well in New York during his mayoral reign -- the idea that a community tolerating even small indignities, such as dog waste on the street or vandalized windows, helps lead to a neighborhood's disintegration.
"This is no different than campaigning in New York," Giuliani said. "You walk around, you talk to people, you listen to what they have to say."
The former mayor was of course there to emphasize his experience as an executive and discuss things that may better endear him to conservative Iowa caucus voters than his liberal positions on gays, guns and abortion rights.
He kissed babies, autographed one woman's hand, posed for photographs, and -- with some reluctance -- signed a neighborhood resident's copy of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."
"I read it a long time ago," Giuliani said. "I don't usually like to sign other people's books."
Clean Up in Aisle 2008
Giuliani's tour began at the local Hy-Vee supermarket.
"The people here deserve a grocery story to shop in," the supermarket manager told Giuliani, who said the store was "part of the revitalization of this neighborhood, and the regrowth of the neighborhood."
After a brief walk through the neighborhood in which he admired home-improvement projects, Giuliani visited a local park that community leaders reported was a haven for drug dealing.
"We saw neighborhoods totally turn around in New York that were overwhelmed by drug dealers, owned by drug dealers, commanded by them and all of sudden people took charge," Giuliani said.
The former mayor continued, "We had to arrest the drug dealers and get 'em out of there for a while, but then the people took their neighborhoods back and it looks like you're in the process of doing that."
Tell Us About the Boy From New York City
Though he is competitive in local polls, Giuliani may be vulnerable when conservative GOP caucus goers learn about his liberal views on many social issues.
"I am who I am," Giuliani said Tuesday, adding, "People have to evaluate the whole record. … I believe I'm the strongest fiscal conservative in this race. I restrained spending in a place that was harder to restrain spending [in] than Washington. I took a deficit and turned it into a surplus."
That said, Giuliani acknowledged that he supports abortion rights, and anti-discrimination protections and domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.
"On the social issues, what they have to understand is I'd appoint judges who are strict constructionists," Giuliani said of conservative voters.
When asked by another local resident about Iraq, Giuliani said, "I hope and pray we're going to get it right," adding, "I want to stabilize it so it doesn't [become] sort of a supporter of terrorism."
Accusing Democrats of wanting to retreat, Giuliani charged, "They have a whole schedule of retreat, and I think that's irresponsible."
Asked about his fundraising reports -- Giuliani's campaign reported raising $14 million, second in the GOP field to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who raised more than $20 million -- Giuliani said, "I think Mitt did a very good job.… He should be congratulated for it."
Giuliani added that "If it hadn't been for the huge amount of money others raised, we would have set a record."
The former mayor's fundraising placed behind not only Romney but Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and likely Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.