DES MOINES, Iowa – The VonSpreckens are back on the Giuliani bandwagon.
The VonSpreckens, self-described poor farmers from the tiny eastern Iowa community of Olin, became big critics of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani after his campaign snubbed them because they weren't millionaires.
But after learning of the matter in media reports, the former New York City mayor visited Olin to apologize in person.
"He is sincere," Deborah VonSprecken said Tuesday. "I looked in his eyes. He is truthful. He is a down to earth, grassroots gentleman."
Giuliani aides confirmed the meeting with VonSprecken and her husband, Jerry, saying Giuliani only learned about the misunderstanding over the weekend and wanted to straighten things out.
After calling the couple, Deborah VonSprecken said Giuliani asked if he could visit them in Olin.
"He was here over two hours yesterday," Deborah VonSprecken said. "He did call and ask if he could speak to us, and then he asked if he could apologize in person. He was sincerely apologetic."
The matter began weeks ago when the VonSpreckens got a telephone call from the Giuliani campaign asking if they would host a campaign rally at their farm on May 4. The couple, who had earlier donated to the Giuliani campaign, agreed and began arranging for the rally — clearing brush for a makeshift parking lot, bringing in hay bales for seats and making plans for portable toilets.
The Giuliani campaign called again to check on their assets and learned they raised cattle on a modest 80-acre farm.
As Deborah VonSprecken put it earlier, "We're just poor farmers."
Later, Giuliani staffer Tony Delgado telephoned to say the campaign event was focused on the Republican candidate's opposition to the inheritance tax. Since their estate isn't worth $1 million, it isn't subject to the inheritance tax.
"Tony said, 'Sorry, you aren't worth a million dollars and he is campaigning on the death tax right now,"' Deborah VonSprecken said.
The event was rescheduled at a Cedar Rapids business.
Giuliani's staff said he didn't know about the snub until reading media reports that began with a story in the weekly Anamosa Journal-Eureka.
"Basically when the mayor found out what had happened, he called them to apologize and then rearranged his schedule to apologize in person," said a campaign aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Giuliani's visit impressed the couple enough that the VonSpreckens agreed to chair the Jones County campaign for Giuliani.