SAN FRANCISCO — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Monday called for an aggressive push to diversify America's energy use in order to dry up cash sources for terrorists and reduce an increasing threat from Iran.
Speaking to a gathering of the GOP faithful in one of America's most staunchly Democratic cities, Giuliani combined his familiar stay-on-the offense-against-terrorism theme with a pitch for new investments - including tax subsidies - in alternative fuels from ethanol to solar to wind.
"Every percentage that we move away from reliance on foreign oil we create a major offensive for us - without loss of life - in the war on terror," Giuliani told about 100 business people at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.
Calling energy independence "a matter of national security," he said America must change its energy habits to win "a big battle ... in the terrorism war."
He said that "billions and billions and billions of dollars" in petroleum profits help fund terrorism and argued that foreign oil dependence should be curtailed "to diffuse dramatically the reach and power of Islamic terrorists."
He also warned that America's current energy demands are only increasing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Iranian President "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a big threat. Iran is a big threat," Giuliani said. "Iran is becoming a nuclear power, which is unthinkable. That should not be allowed. They should never get there. Why is Iran threatening the way it is threatening now? It is threatening because it is just sitting there with billions of dollars in oil money."
Saying America "should not have to be required to buy our energy ... from our enemies," Giuliani said he would support expanding federal tax subsidies to expand numerous energy sources. Besides wind, solar and biofuels, he said America should expand nuclear power and "clean coal" technologies and enhance production of hybrid cars.
"I'm a big opponent of federal subsidies," Giuliani said.
But, evoking images of the space race triggered by the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, he said a similar commitment is needed in "stimulating new industry," changing energy habits and "keeping our national security intact."
Giuliani's speech, followed by a question-and-answer session with local Republicans, underscored new stakes for GOP presidential candidates in the home of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other deep blue California congressional districts.
For the Feb. 5 primary, the state Republican Party has scrapped its traditional winner-take-all California delegate selection process in favor of a system that will award 159 of 173 GOP presidential delegates based on who wins each of the state's 53 congressional districts.
That means Giuliani stands to pick up three delegates if he wins Pelosi's district. "We need to go everywhere," said Giuliani spokesman Jerrod Agen.
The former New York mayor's appearance stirred excitement for long-ignored San Francisco Republicans that GOP presidential contenders will seek them out.
"I like the sound of that," said Republican Adam Dierkhisang, a San Francisco real estate broker who came to see Giuliani. "We are a rare breed to begin with. It takes a lot of courage to be a Republican in San Francisco."
"We've been below the radar for too long," said San Francisco interior designer Maria Bell. "The (Republican) candidates need to come here. This city tilts to the left side. The rest of us are underground."
Giuliani said he appreciates having the California primary in February "because it gives us a chance, all candidates, to make our case to a very diverse cross-section of the American people," referring to Feb. 5 primaries in states including California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
"Be very, very excited," he said. "This will be a different primary than any in the past."