ST. PAUL, Minn. | The former mayor of Gotham released a relentless attack on Barack Obama on Wednesday night, energizing a previously moribund Republican convention and setting up one of the most anticipated vice-presidential speeches in recent history.
Rudolph W. Giuliani told the packed house at Xcel Energy Center that the Democratic presidential candidate has “never led anything,” during the warm-up speech for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who accepted the Republican nomination for vice president moments later.
“The choice in this election comes down to substance over style,” said the one-time Republican presidential candidate. “John McCain has been tested. Barack Obama has not.”
Mr. Giuliani, who was known in New York for his tough crime-fighting policies, playfully mocked Mr. Obama’s record as a community organizer, state senator and “celebrity senator.”
“He’s never run a city, never run a state, never run a business,” Mr. Giuliani said. “He’s never had to lead people in crisis.”
Mr. Giuliani pressed on: “This is not a personal attack. It’s a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada.”
Mr. Giuliani’s spot in the speaking order was a last-minute adjustment, after convention organizers chose not to have Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle give the last speech before Mrs. Palin, whose biography and speech has been the focus of this week.
The speech was a badly needed shot in the arm to a convention that on its third night still felt as if it had not recovered from a slow start, after Mr. McCain decided to suspend the first night’s political activities because of Hurricane Gustav.
As Mr. Giuliani spoke, the jubilance of the crowd increased.
The amped-up conventiongoers laughed derisively at the mention of Mr. Obama’s two years of community organizing in Chicago, chanting “zero, zero, zero.”
Mr. Giuliani then ridiculed Mr. Obama’s record in the Illinois state Senate, saying that he voted “present” 130 times.
“He couldn’t figure out whether to vote yes or whether to vote no,” Mr. Giuliani said, chuckling. “It was too tough.”
Having then done his best to bloody Mr. Obama’s nose, Mr. Giuliani accused Mrs. Palin’s critics of sexism.
“How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children, and be vice president? How dare they?” he said, pumping his fists. “They would never ask a man that question.”
Mr. Giuliani also sarcastically apologized to Mr. Obama that Mrs. Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, “isn’t cosmopolitan enough.”