Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney followed Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani around rural Iowa after his appearance at the Iowa State Fair. One can almost sense Nagourney waiting for Giuilani to blow a gasket and show Iowans what he's really like,in Monday's "Iowans Check for Dirt Under Giuliani's Fingernails."
"But Mr. Giuliani's unconventional tour through tiny farming communities in the rolling hills of western Iowa this week displayed the cultural challenges he faces as he tries to win over a part of the country that could not be more different from the city that he calls home."
"There was no sign of the belligerent side of Mr. Giuliani so familiar to New Yorkers - like the time he called a caller to his radio show 'deranged.'"
(You can listen to that "belligerent" moment here. It's from 1999, whenGiuliani was mayor of New York and hosted a radio show. Giuliani's brief chat with "David in Oceanside," who identified himself as "Executive President of New York Ferrets' Rights Advocacy," actually had a dry humor about it - Giuliani seems less angry than bemused and (almost) genuinely concerned about the caller's obsession with ferrets.)
More Nagourney on a barely wrapped Giuilani:
"He was unfailingly polite as he tried to connect, even ignoring what he might have taken in the Bronx as a spitball, albeit one delivered with a smile."
"'Are you missing your tall buildings while you are enjoying our green cornfields here?' asked Mr. Schuler, the farmer who had come 30 miles with his wife.
"Mr. Giuliani laughed. 'I called my wife this morning and I said, 'Judith, I never have seen more corn in my life.' You know the median, where they put the grass in the middle? There's a lot of room there to put some more corn in. I don't know why they haven't done it.'
"He paused. 'When do you start the picking and the harvesting? Starts pretty soon, right?"
"'November,' a woman answered. 'End of October, November.'
"Mr. Giuliani, who has a summer home in the Hamptons, where locally grown sweet corn is sold at small streetside farm stands, explained that on Long Island, corn is harvested at the end of August."
But when Democrat Barack Obama showed his own lack of Iowa agriculture expertise in late July, a search indicates the Times covered the Obama embarrassment only on its political blog, in a post by Jeff Zeleny, not in the paper itself.
Nagourney nitpicked more on Giuliani.
"His invocation of Staten Island for common ground in his conversations with Iowans was perhaps a bit of a stretch. While Staten Island is unlike any of the other four New York boroughs - more open land than high rises - it has been a long time since it was known for its farms.
"Similarly, when the power went out in Cumberland, Mr. Giuliani talked about the blackouts in New York City and boasted how he led the city through those dark hours without there being looting or rioting. 'Blackouts were one of my biggest fears as mayor,' he said. 'It used to be in the old days when it happened, we would have a riot.'
"The two blocks that make up Cumberland, nestled in a valley surrounded by rolling fields of corn and accessible this day only by a dirt road that sent up clouds of dust as Mr. Giuliani arrived in his motorcade, did not seem particularly prone to a riot."