Giuliani Clueless on Milk and Bread Prices

Rudy Giuliani might be able to fight crime and terrorism and be as fiscally responsible as anyone but you wouldn’t want to send him to buy your groceries.

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hasn’t done a lot of grocery shopping lately — at least based on his answers about the cost of milk and bread. Campaigning in Alabama on Tuesday, the former New York City mayor portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative and an aggressive fighter of terrorism who has a lot in common with the Deep South state.

But when asked about more mundane matters — like the price of some basic staples — Giuliani had trouble with a reporter’s question. “A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30,” he said.

A check of the Web site for D’Agostino supermarket on Manhattan’s Upper East Side showed a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39. In Montgomery, Ala., a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.

These incidents hurt candidates with voters, who want their leaders to simultaneously be inspiring leaders and “regular guys.” The fact of the matter, though, is that none of the people with any reasonable chance of becoming president have to think twice about what a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread cost; indeed, it’s unlikely they do their own grocery shopping. Given that presidents likewise delegate their marketing to White House staff, this is not an issue likely to harm the country if Giuliani is elected.

via Political Wire

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. markm says:

    Not to defend anyone but the $1.50 is about right for a half gallon of whole milk…and he’s spot on for the price of bread (here in Michigan anyways).

  2. James Joyner says:

    Well, he was asked what a *gallon* of milk cost, not a half gallon.

    Bread is a stupid question nowadays, since you can get it anywhere from about $1.50 to $5 or more, depending on whether you’re buying store brand white sandwich bread or something more exotic.

  3. markm says:

    Agreed James. Still, while Giuliani isn’t going to get my vote, i’d rather have a leader that is knowledgeable on domestic and foreign issues than a guy that can spill the sale prices at the Super Wal Mart. Having said that…he’d sure as hell better know the price of a gallon of gasoline (imo).

  4. John Burgess says:

    This is such an evergreen ‘gotcha’ that I think it poor staff work to not have a prepared answer to a question that is going to come up somewhere, sometime during a campaign.

  5. James Joyner says:

    markm: Sure. That’s my point, too.

    John: True ’nuff.

  6. B. Minich says:

    You know, I really couldn’t tell you exactly what I pay for bread and milk, and I DO buy it (this will most likely change when I stop being single and having to worry about buying food on more than a weekly basis. Even if Guilani does his own shopping, there is a good chance that he has enough money that he just doesn’t notice.

  7. Triumph says:

    Yes this is a stupid question–but other seemingly stupid questions like the one Bush faced in 1999 where he failed to name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, Pakistan, and India can be revealing.

    His failure on this front was a harbinger for his abysmal and reckless foreign policy record.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    The Democrats are probably going to win in a cake walk in 2008 because all of the Republicans are going to end up as damaged goods well before the election. Every Republican has not realize that they have no friends in the national media and need to be super prepared. Yet, every Republican candidates seems to stumble around, act unprepared, and continual make assinine comments.

    All they are going it making it easier for the Democrats and sending the U.S. down the rode to a one party state.

  9. ama055131 says:

    wow golly real important questions I buy milk and bread when my wife asks me to go for her and I never paid attention to the price ,I need it I buy it. Really sounds like anything to bring Rudy down and it’s too petty for me not to support someone who has other things that benefit him like national security tax’s you know like Ronald Reagan. Remember it was Pres. Reagan who said it’s one big tent everyone is welcomed!

  10. Ugh says:

    This isn’t as bad as GHWB showing up at the supermarket and being surprised by the bar code scanner. IIRC the media made a fairly big deal out of that one, my reaction was “The man has been either President or Vice President for the past 12 years, you expect him to have done his own grocery shopping?!!!?”

    OTOH, the staffer who thought that was a good idea was an idiot.

  11. Mark says:

    I am mildly lactose intolerant, so I do not buy milk. Damn, I guess I cannot get elected president because of this.

    Well, that and the fact I am only 32…

  12. I have a wife and son who can’t eat store bought bread (because of the wheat). A lot of people are milk intolerant. Was there a follow up question on whether these are things he eats?

    I suspect that every candidate so far announced doesn’t do the majority of his/her own grocery shopping.

  13. Anderson says:

    More relevant is that Giuliani gives stupid answers to relevant, important questions, too.

    Can’t provide links due to the OTB spam filter, but the most glaring (to me) was G’s statement that he would agree that the executive can lock up U.S. citizens w/out judicial review.

    TNR’s The Plank blog and Matt Yglesias have been doing good jobs keeping up with other Giuliani absurdities.

    At some point, I would think that Republicans have to ask themselves whether winning is really everything, if the result is a President Giuliani. The man is an arrogant fool.

  14. Anderson says:

    Btw, Ugh, much tho I cherished the supermarket-scanner story when it came out, Snopes says it’s bogus.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    John Burgess has got it right—this is poor staff work. Why wasn’t RG prepped for the question?

    IMO it’s a perfectly reasonable question since one’s views of wage rates for average folks, knowledge of prices for stuff that average folks buy, and economic policy views are interrelated.

  16. jeff b says:

    Wow, everybody is missing the point. Guiliani should know the price of milk because most people buy milk. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t buy his own milk, or that he doesn’t drink milk. He should also know the price of gasoline, cars, clothes, and houses. He should know the median household income and the median federal tax remittance and the cost to build one lane-mile of interstate highway and how many officers and men are in each branch of the service and a lot of other things. Anybody who wants to be in charge of the country should know what’s going on!

  17. DR says:

    Why can’t Giuliani (and all politicians) just be honest when asked a question. He should have just said “I haven’t bought a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread in years.”

    Of course its entirely possible that he did say that, and then gave a guess. Actually, that is quite likely given the ethics of the typical campaign reporter.

  18. just me says:

    A lot of pricing depends on where you buy it.

    I can get milk for about $2 a gallon at most chain stores around here, but if I run out of milk, and send my daughter to the corner gas station to buy it it costs about a dollar more.

    I can get off brand break for 99cents a loaf, but if I buy fancier name brand stuff it can cost $3 or more a loaf.

    I think how much this stuff costs depends a lot on where you shop, and I am not convinced a lack of knowledge on these questions means much, although it does make for bad PR when the questions aren’t correct.

    I will also say that I hardly expect that Guliani or really any of the candidates for the presidency do much of their own grocery shopping.

  19. carpeicthus says:

    Giuliani drinks Real American milk, straight from the cow.