ST PAUL, Minnesota (AFP) — Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani launched a scalding assault on Barack Obama on Wednesday, branding him the least experienced presidential candidate in 100 years.
The hero of September 11, 2001, rocked the Republican convention to the rafters as the party's vaunted attack machine awoke and tore into the Democrats in a bid to erase Obama's lead in the polls ahead of the November 4 election.
"He is the least experienced candidate for president of the United States in at least the last 100 years," said Giuliani, combining forensic prosecutorial skills with the bare knuckles of a political streetfighter.
"Not a personal attack, a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada."
Giuliani, who became an American hero after his role in stewarding his city through the September 11 attacks, also rode to the defense of under-fire Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.
Democrats have argued that Palin's first elective office as the mayor of a small Alaska town is barely a blip on her resume, as she argues she has the requisite experience to serve a "heartbeat" away from the presidency.
But Giuliani gave the impression that as a former mayor himself, he was offended.
"I'm sorry that Barack Obama feels that her hometown isn't cosmopolitan enough," Giuliani said, sparking gales of laughter from the convention audience.
"I'm sorry, Barack, that it's not flashy enough," said Giuliani, plugging into a Republican attack narrative that the Democratic presidential nominee is an elitist and a "celebrity."
"Maybe they cling to religion there," he said, again bringing the house down, referencing an unguarded comment that Obama made at a fundraiser during the Democratic primary that some working class Americans bitter at their economic circumstances turn to gun ownership and religion.
Giuliani also poked Obama over his response to the recent showdown between Russia and Georgia, which provoked a robust initial response from McCain, which Democrats said was hasty and made the situation worse.
"I have some advice for Senator Obama: Next time, call John McCain," Giuliani said, again provoking roars from the audience, and chants of "USA, USA, USA."
Democrats were ready for Giuliani, and before his speech in the primetime television convention hour, sent out a dossier detailing what they said was his "corruption, favoritism and cronyism," while mayor of New York.
The document accused the former presidential candidate of breaking campaign finance laws and adoptive corrosive and secret practices in government.
Wednesday night at the Republican convention also allowed Giuliani's other former Republican presidential rivals to vent.
Wisecracking former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee said Obama would give "madmen" the benefit of the doubt if he is elected president.
The comment was an apparent jibe at the Illinois senator's offer to talk to the leaders of US foes like Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.
"Maybe the most dangerous threat of an Obama presidency is that he would continue to give madmen the benefit of the doubt," Huckabee said.
"If he's wrong just once, we will pay a heavy price," Huckabee said in a passage of his speech about why Obama's foreign policy would be dangerous.
Obama argues that McCain would simply prolong what he says are failed Republican foreign policies which have isolated the United States and strained its relations with its allies.
Another Republican ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney unleashed a fiercely partisan speech that will inevitably be seen in retrospect as an opening shot in the 2012 primary campaign should McCain not win the presidency.
"Our economy is under attack. China is acting like Adam Smith on steroids, buying oil from the world's worst and selling nuclear technology.
"Russia and the oil states are siphoning more than 500 billion dollars a year from us in what could become the greatest transfer of economic wealth in the history of the world.
"This is no time for timid, liberal, empty gestures," Romney said.
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