TAMPA, Fla. – Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's "bold" vision for the nation sounded a lot like the same ideas he's been talking about for months, but delivered in a new package Saturday.
Giuliani's address before about 200 people was billed by his campaign as a new speech that shows the former New York mayor's bold vision for the future of the country.
But the 30-plus minute speech hit on similar themes: a little Hillary Rodham Clinton bashing, some reflections on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a call to make energy independence as big a priority as landing on the moon was in the 1960s, and the need to fight terrorism so the United States can be safe and do more business in the Middle East.
And the theme throughout was that he has shown the leadership needed to be president.
"Tested, ready, now. America needs a leader," Giuliani said as he began the speech.
The address comes after a rough few weeks for Giuliani. The police commissioner he appointed in 2000 and pushed for the post of head of Homeland Security, Bernard Kerik, was indicted on federal charges that include lying to the White House, corruption and filing false income tax returns.
Giuliani has also faced questions about whether he hid the expenses of his security detail as he an extramarital affair Judith Nathan, now his third wife. And his poll numbers have slipped as Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's have risen, indicating GOP voters are looking for a conservative candidate instead of one seen as a moderate-to-liberal Republican.
The speech was delivered in the state Giuliani is counting on to give him a boost ahead of his GOP rivals on Feb. 5, when more than 20 states will hold primaries and caucuses. Giuliani is trailing badly in Iowa, which holds its caucus Jan. 3, and dueling for second in several polls in New Hampshire, which votes Jan. 8, and is in a tight race in South Carolina, which holds its primary Jan. 19.
Florida is voting Jan. 29, and Giuliani has made the state a prime focus, visiting frequently and quickly showing support for a national insurance backup fund -- a top priority for Gov. Charlie Crist. He planned to hold a rally in Jacksonville later Saturday.
Throughout the speech, he described the country he wants to leave for the next president -- one where parents have school choice, the borders are secure, citizens are safer and government doesn't overspend.
"I've faced adversity before, I've led in situations that seemed hopeless and dire. In need of a miracle, I don't just pray for miracles, I don't just hope for miracles, I expect miracles," Giuliani said.
He also criticized Democratic candidate Clinton's universal health care plan, saying, "We'll hand over a country where decisions about your health care are made between you and your doctor, not between you and a Hillary-care custodian."
He promised tax cuts, envisioned selling more American products to China and India and said the United States can win over the Middle East by promoting ideas and ideals and understanding that the vast majority of people there share the same values as Americans, like loving their families and wanting to be safe.
While the United State has to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, it also must embrace "people in the Middle East, in the Arab world, in the Islamic world," he said. "We've got to reach out to them, we've got to get to know them better, we have to get them to know us better, we have to do more business."