Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made a surprise appearance in Howard Beach Tuesday afternoon to stump with several south Queens Republicans as they campaigned.
The candidates gave the term “retail politics” new meaning as they greeted potential voters coming out of a Waldbaum’s supermarket on Cross Bay Boulevard.
Among those on the GOP side seeking votes were Anthony Como, who is challenging state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) for his seat, Congressional candidates Bob Turner and Asher Taub, and state Assembly candidate Harold Paez, who is seeking to unseat Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway). Republican Councilmen Eric Ulrich of Ozone Park and Dan Halloran of Whitestone were also in attendance.
Addabbo and Pheffer were also out campaigning just a few feet away from the Republican delegation.
When Giuliani, dubbed “America’s Mayor” by some, showed up and shook hands with the Republican hopefuls, a small crowd of shoppers and onlookers gathered around to get a look.
During an interview with the Queens Chronicle, the former mayor touched on a couple of hot-button issues in the city, including the placement of the proposed Cordoba Institute, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” in lower Manhattan.
“If the people behind the mosque are truly for healing, then they should move it,” Giuliani said. “That is the will of the overwhelming majority of people.”
He noted that New York has always been a tolerant city, where many religions are practiced. He believes the organizers of the Cordoba Institute should be allowed to build their house of worship, but not at Ground Zero, which he termed “sacred ground.”
“It’s very insensitive, especially to those who lost friends and family members on 9/11,” the former mayor said. “Putting the mosque at that location is about confrontation, not about healing.”
Giuliani also discussed the Obama administration’s plans to try accused terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York.
“It’s absurd and it really shows a lack of leadership by President Obama,” Giuliani said. “KSM should not be tried here.”
While Giuliani provided some star power to the afternoon, the main reason that candidates of both parties were there was to campaign for crucial votes in November.
Turner, who conducted a “move the mosque” rally later that night in Forest Park, said he has been very encouraged by the response he’s received from voters.
“There’s something going on out there,” he said. “I’m getting the sense we’re in the middle of a seismic change.”
Turner, who is opposing incumbent Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) said his campaign has been steadily growing, with about 300 volunteers, and he hopes to get 1,000 by the end of October.
“We have had a great grassroots effort that’s only going to continue to grow,” he said.
Halloran, who doesn’t face an election this year, also believes the November elections will be fruitful for the Republican party.
“It’s a great environment to be running, people are really fed up with the status quo,” he said.
A few feet away, the Democratic candidates were also bringing their message to voters.
“November 2 is an important day,” Addabbo said. “I’ve been talking with voters and I’m getting very positive feedback from them. I’ve been representing this area for 10 years and I go back a long way with them.”