Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani spent part of Saturday in several Seacoast communities for a series of meet and greets with potential voters as part of a whirlwind tour of the Granite State.
After outlining a tax plan at a town hall-style meeting in Manchester, the former New York City mayor traveled to Scamman's Home & Garden in Stratham. During the 30-minute visit, he met with a modest crowd, introducing himself with a handshake, posing for the occasional snapshot, and signing copies of his book for those who brought it.
Giuliani also answered questions when asked, but didn't make any prepared remarks.
From there, he made a similar appearance at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook before meeting with workers at Global Relief Technologies in Portsmouth.
Giuliani also spoke with supporters at a house party in New Castle at the home of Wayne Semprini Saturday evening. About 200 people attended the event and filled out cards saying, "I want to help Rudy."
Semprini, who until recently was the state Republican Party chairman, is leading Giuliani's campaign for the state of New Hampshire.
The candidate wrapped up his day with an event at the 100 Club in Portsmouth.
Giuliani says his strategy in New Hampshire is simple: get his message out to as many people as possible.
"I think there's a very, very strong appeal for New Hampshire Republicans," he said "It's a state that believes in low taxes, moderate government and fiscal discipline. These are all things that I stand for."
People at the stop in Stratham, many of whom said they're still undecided, also said they were impressed with the informal visit.
"He seemed very genuine," said Manchester resident Donna Dunn. "He talked with the kids, took pictures, it was wonderful."
Others wished Giuliani took more time to answer more questions.
"It was very short and sweet. We didn't get to find out much," said Eva Giannini of Newmarket.
However, earlier in the day in Manchester when outlining his tax plan, Giuliani said a Democratic president would raise taxes and ravage the economy.
He said he would lower taxes, make permanent President Bush's tax cuts and eliminate inheritance taxes.
"The Democrats believe in government when they have a choice. Republicans believe in people when we have a choice. ... The Republican Party is the party of the people. The Democratic Party is the party of the government," he said. He appeared with former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who is a campaign adviser, and former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci.
In his speech, Giuliani paid little attention to his GOP rivals while taking on the Democratic candidates.
"If you've never run anything, you sometimes have unrealistic ideas," he said, noting none of the leading Democratic contenders has served as an executive. "This is not a place for on-the-job training."
He also took a shot at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a top contender for her party's nomination.
—‰'We must take things away from you for the common good,'"‰" Giuliani said, mocking Clinton.
"Do you understand what that implies? No, it's not Karl Marx. What she's saying in that is that 'We know better, the government knows better.'"‰"
The cornerstone of Giuliani's campaign has been tax cuts, greater freedom over spending and less government. He said people would face $3 trillion in tax increase over the next decade unless Bush's tax cuts are made permanent.
Giuliani also advocated a permanent child tax credit and lower marginal tax rates. He wants to tie marginal tax rates to the current levels and perhaps cut the rates further. He favors linking the alternative minimum tax to the rate of inflation, which Giuliani said would stop tax increases on 30 million people by 2010.
This tax originally was designed to make sure that the wealthiest could not use tax breaks or deductions to eliminate their entire tax liability. It is not adjusted for inflation.
Inflation and recent tax cuts push more and more taxpayers into the grasp of the minimum tax each year, depriving about 4 million tax filers from taking full advantage of various deductions and tax credits.
Giuliani told his audience that he is the best option to help them have more control over their own money. As part of his standard stump speech, Giuliani routinely reminds voters he cut taxes 23 times.
"New York City's taxes were way too high," Giuliani said. "We were taxing people out of the city. We were making the choice for them."
Giuliani, who has strong national polling results but trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, planned to "give the death tax the death penalty." The so-called "death tax" taxes wealth passed on through inheritance. The current rate is set at 45 percent through 2009, but it drops to nothing in 2010 and jumps to 55 percent in 2011.
"The only thing I can think of is that they wanted to create an incentive for death in 2010," said Giuliani, who said he wants to keep that rate zero.
While Giuliani cut taxes 23 times, his record has come into question.
Giuliani initiated only 15 cuts and opposed one of the largest, accepting it only after a five-month negotiation with the city council. Seven cuts started at the state level. One was initiated by the council.
The campaign said the minutiae doesn't matter to voters; the net result was 23 cuts to taxes under a Democratic-controlled council, a boost for the economy and help for New York City families.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said Giuliani's approach is wrong for voters.
"Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the Republican candidates seem to be the last people in America who think the voters are looking for more of the same failed Bush agenda," Damien LaVera said. "If he ever stopped exaggerating his record and pandering to the right wing, Giuliani would realize that the American people have already rejected the Bush agenda and aren't looking to sign up for four more years.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.