From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
On what should be a happy day of fundraising in the four boroughs of New York City (all except Manhattan) for Rudy Giuliani's 63rd birthday, a few protestors ruined his first event, a review of the videotape shows. At City Island's Sea Shore Restaurant in the Bronx, a young woman named Sabrina approached the Mayor with a prepared question, reading it word for word off of a notepad. "You reported to Peter Jennings on 9/11 that the World Trade Center towers were going to collapse. No steel structure in history has ever collapsed due to fire. How come the people in the buildings weren't notified and who else knew about this? How do you sleep at night?"
Giuliani started to reply but was interrupted by Luke Rudkowski, a man recording the entire exchange on a video camera. Matthew Lepaceak, who stood on the other side of Giuliani, joined in. "But you said on ABC video with Peter Jennings in an interview that you were aware the towers were going to collapse in advance. Who told you the towers were going to collapse in advance, sir? And I also would like to know who else you told." During this time, Giuliani had an incredulous look on his face, completely caught off guard. The statement they were referring to is from a phoner Giuliani had with Jennings. "We set up headquarters at 75 Barclay Street which was right there with the police commissioner and the fire commissioner, the head of emergency management, and we were operating out of there when we were told the World Traded Center was going to collapse."
After being interrupted again, Giuliani responded with an explanation. "Our understanding was that over a long period of time, the way other buildings collapse, the towers could collapse. Meaning over a seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-hour period. No one that I knew of had any idea that they would implode. That was a complete surprise." He then walked into the diner for the breakfast fundraiser. Giuliani supporters clapped loudly to drown out the protestors' questions.
The questioners were from "We Are Change," a self-described 9/11 activist group that asserts 9/11 was an inside job. Rudkowski, the leader of the organization, stated, "We are a non-profit grassroots organization that represents family members and rescue workers that go against Rudolph Giuliani." He said he did not lose a family member in the attack. Sabrina stated she represented her family member, Lt. Robert F. Wallace, who was killed in the attack. "I just want a new investigation. There was no reason why he should dump 45% of the victims in a dump. He used to be an investigator, he knows damn well you don't dump, you do not throw away evidence."
Lepaceak, who stated he also lost no family members during 9/11, assured reporters they were not paid by another campaign to protest Giuliani. "We are not affiliated with anything except for life, pursuit of liberty and happiness and trying to get America back on the right track which Giuliani and unfortunately many men like him have taken us down. Unfortunately, we are in a state of crisis here in America. And we need to have a good man in office in 2008. Unfortunately, Rudy Giuliani is not the man to do it."
***Update*** The Giuliani campaign sent us this statement from adviser Mike McKeon in response to these protests. "Millions of people around the world saw firsthand the decisive leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the bravery of so many men and women working to save lives on September 11th - everyone doing everything they possibly could to help. The murderous terrorists and their supporters who made it possible to turn commercial jetliners into missiles and fly them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania are clearly and solely responsible for the worst attacks on the United States."