MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hasn't done a lot of grocery shopping lately - at least based on his answers about the cost of milk and bread.
Campaigning in Alabama on Tuesday, the former New York City mayor portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative and an aggressive fighter of terrorism who has a lot in common with the Deep South state.
But when asked about more mundane matters - like the price of some basic staples - Giuliani had trouble with a reporter's question.
"A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30," he said.
A check of the Web site for D'Agostino supermarket on Manhattan's Upper East Side showed a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39. In Montgomery, Ala., a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.
Later Tuesday, the Giuliani campaign pointed out that the national average for bread is $1.17 per pound, as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government agency also lists milk as costing, on average, $1.60 per half-gallon.
Giuliani was closer to the mark on the price of a gallon of gasoline.
"Gas, I think, is $2.89," he said.
His difficulty with grocery items recalled another Republican's supermarket run-in. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush expressed amazement at a high-tech supermarket scanner, prompting critics to argue that he was out of touch with average Americans. The White House cried foul, pointing out that during a grocers' convention Bush had been impressed by a special scanner that could read torn labels.
Giuliani attended $1,000-per-person campaign fundraisers in Mobile and Montgomery before addressing a joint session of the Alabama Legislature that drew an overflow crowd.
Recalling that he worked in the Justice Department in President Reagan's administration, Giuliani said that like Reagan, he will not change course with the political winds.
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"I'll set a course and stick with it. I'll be on offense on terrorism. I'll be a fiscal conservative. I'll lower taxes. I'll seek private market solutions to most problems," he told the Legislature.
The former mayor said he talked to radio host Don Imus, who has been suspended for two weeks for derogatory remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Giuliani said he considers Imus' apology sincere.
"I would appear on his program again, sure. I take him at his word," Giuliani said.
Asked about the flying of the Confederate flag in some Southern states, Giuliani said, "That's a good thing to be left on a state-by-state basis."
Giuliani said he did not recall seeing a Confederate flag during his day in Alabama - even though there was a display of four Confederate flags flying beside the Capitol.
The former mayor never mentioned his position on gay rights and abortion that separate him from traditional Republican voters in the state, but he said he would always be straight with voters.
"I will tell you what I believe. If you agree with it, fine. If you don't agree with it, you have a right not to agree with it. If you don't agree, you have a right not to vote for me," he said.
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