Fort Mill neighbors like Rudy's leadership skills

Their table wasn't the best in the house, but at the back edge on one side.

But five people, and many more people just like them who will help decide who the next president of this country is, shelled out good money Thursday night at an upscale neighborhood clubhouse to hear the guy who might be that next president. If people like them say so.

Paula Hanson and her husband, Mike, who moved to York County from Tennessee after leaving Illinois. Jack Harris from "Up North," who came to York County because he felt he was taxed to death. Bill Robertson from Rhode Island. They wanted to hear Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani tell them, five people from the same neighborhood in Fort Mill, why he is the leader who can run this country.

That's exactly what Thursday night was about. I heard it all over the room.

Leadership. And who can bring it.

The people at that table wanted to hear for themselves, in person. They wanted a picture with this northern ex-mayor who became a national figure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and were willing to pay for it. A guy who tells anyone who will listen that he curbed crime and cleaned up New York. Giuliani was just a few feet away, courting the Hansons, Harris and Robertson.

Before the speech, the table talked about wanting a president that would be a leader.

"After 9-11, Rudy did what he had to do," said Harris. "He showed moxie."

I asked the table about abortion, which surely could hurt Giuliani in overwhelmingly pro-life South Carolina.

"I know people at work who say they won't vote for Giuliani because of abortion," Paula Hanson said. "Me, I want to look at the whole picture. The whole man. If there are nine things I want done, I want the guy who can do most of those things for me. I want who can do the best job."

She wants leadership.

There are bigger issues than abortion, Robertson said, "but that could hurt him, no doubt."

During his speech, Giuliani never mentioned abortion. But he touched on so many other Republican issues that cause party faithful to shell out money on a Thursday night. He shares what they share: a dislike for taxes, for red tape, a belief in a strong national defense and economy.

Giuliani said about his mayoral time, "I held down spending" and "I ran the biggest city in the country." He said he was re-elected as mayor in New York where Democrats are in the majority because "they agreed with my results."

Agree with Giuliani or not, he isn't afraid to say what he believes he has done, and what he will do on the national stage. He sure loves to bash Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, too. He did it often, and the crowd didn't mind one bit.

Giuliani said near the end of his speech "perfect agreement is not required here."

After the speech, I asked Harris if he agreed with the speech and Harris didn't say one way or another. He said that word again.

"Leadership, very good leadership," Harris said.

And Mike Hanson, who brought his wife and 15-year-old daughter and paid good money to do it, said something profound because it shows what this primary process is all about for us in South Carolina. With that early primary in January, candidates don't have to just be some guy on TV.

"I heard more, learned more than in all the times before when I watched on television," Hanson said. "I agreed with about 90 percent of what he said. But I heard it for myself."

And now it's up to people like Mike Hanson to decide who will be the next president. And he got his information from a stage, from a guy just a few feet away who looked him in the eye.