Image: Rudy Giuliani
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani reacts to the crowd during his speech Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention.
msnbc.com
updated 9/3/2008 11:16:15 PM ET 2008-09-04T03:16:15

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani castigated Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois as a flipflopping lightweight in his keynote address Wednesday night, launching the heaviest sustained attack so far on the Democratic ticket at the Republican National Convention.

Previous speakers at the convention have been careful to characterize Obama — who is seeking to become the nation’s first African-American president — as a promising leader for the future whose experience does not yet match up to that of the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Giuliani discarded that playbook, casting Obama as “a gifted man with an Ivy League education” who was “immersed ... in Chicago machine politics.” He described Obama as a no-show during his tenure in the Illinois state Senate and a man who, once he got to Washington, was a “celebrity senator [with] no leadership, no legislation to really speak of.”

Giuliani told the delegates that they could forecast Obama’s performance as president by reviewing his campaign, saying he had changed his mind so often — on public financing, government wiretapping and U.S.-Israeli relations — that “if I were Joe Biden, I’d want that VP thing in writing.”

And as president, he said, Obama would be lost, having no previous experience as an executive.

“He’s never run a city, he’s never run a state, he’s never run a business, he’s never run a military unit,” Giuliani said. “He’s never had to lead people in crisis.

“This is not a personal attack. It’s a statement of fact,” he said. “Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada. Nada. Nothing.”

Giuliani leads defense of Palin
Palin’s experience — she has been mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, and has served as Alaska’s governor for less than two years — was front and center in voters’ minds as Republicans gathered on the third night of their convention. Her personal life has also become a topic of discussion after she revealed that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter was pregnant .

The reports have led to widespread questions about the process that led to her selection, but Giuliani gave a vigorous defense of Palin, calling her “a new generation” of Republican leader.

“She’s led a city and a state. She’s reduced taxes and government spending,” Giuliani said. “And she’s actually done something about moving America toward energy independence — taking on the oil companies while encouraging more energy exploration here at home.

Saying Palin had more “executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket combined,” Giuliani said, “I’m sorry if Barack Obama thinks her hometown isn’t cosmopolitan enough.”

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“I’m sorry, Barack. Maybe they cling to religion there,” he said, alluding to an early gaffe by Obama during the primary campaign, when he suggested that working-class Americans tended to “cling to religion and guns” in tough times.

Earlier, Giuliani said in an interview with NBC’s TODAY show that reporting on Palin’s daughter was “indecent and disgusting.”

“Everything’s that come out is almost silly,” Giuliani said. “The whole thing with her daughter is just absurd.”

By Alex Johnson of msnbc.com.

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