Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rudy Giuliani says goodbye to Florida Today before saying hello
Bomb scare at national security contractor scares away candidate

A bomb threat at one of Rudy Giuliani's scheduled stops Wednesday in Melbourne made him cancel a later appearance at FLORIDA TODAY. That made Wednesday a typical day in the information center (translation from Gannettish to English: newsroom) in Melbourne.

In the post below, I was worried that Rudy Giuliani would be a typical politician and show up late for his meeting at FLORIDA TODAY.

Well, Giuliani isn't a typical politician. He's an extraordinarily typical politician. (Is that even possible?)

Either way, I obviously underestimated him: He never arrived at all.

Apparently, someone had called in a bomb threat to Harris Corp., a large gov'ment contractor based here in Melbourne. Rudy was supposed to hold a "town hall" meeting with employees after doing his usual baby kissing and schmoozing with the voters on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport.

The threat was made around 1:30 p.m., during the time that I was waiting - impatiently - for him to arrive. Once his plane did touch down, I guess the unsecret service was too cautious to let him go about his normal schedule. His two appointments in Brevard County - one at Harris and one at FLORIDA TODAY - were canceled. His stay was reduced to a warmed-over speech "announcing" tax cuts in the airport hangar.

Oh, sorry. I had to take a break from writing so I could yawn.

So much for returning to the glory days I spent in Washington, D.C., chatting up politicians. (American University students, by the way, covered the New Hampshire primary magnificently, so click here and here.)

But at least I got the chance to get pretty close to Rudy at the rally. And ... oops. Look! There's even a photo of Rudy and me on Click here. I'm the one in the white T-shirt in the center of the photo. I have the camera in front of my face, of course.

I showed up at work Wednesday (whoa, now THAT is big news). The "information center," or newsroom, seemed normal. There was furniture in the hallway - as usual. The police scanner was buzzing like crazy - as usual. The reporters were typing away and trying to make deadline - as ...

Anyway, everyone seemed to be in bright spirits, which was good because I had gotten little sleep the night before. I needed perky people around me.

But soon, the managing editor walked into the newsroom. He was the needle that deflated the balloon.

"Giuliani bailed," he said.

Oh, the agony, I mumbled.

To document this ordeal the best I could in photographs, I shot the conference room, above, where Rudy likely would have faced stinging questions directly from FLORIDA TODAY editors and indirectly from readers (our Web site asked readers to submit queries for editors to pose). The lights were still on and consuming electricity after midnight when I took the photo. But there was no one there, and no one had been there for hours and hours - no Ruuuuudy.

Thursday's story about the ordeal in FLORIDA TODAY says the bomb threat was the first Rudy had to deal with in the past year of his campaign. But he hasn't been campaigning (officially) for a year, so it would seem that the Melbourne threat was the first such scare of his entire presidential run! Hey, at least something significant happened Wednesday in Melbourne.

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