Hysteria, tears in Berlusconi book on Italy's love
By Deepa Babington
ROME (Reuters) - Hysterical and tearful messages from Italians imploring Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to persevere after being attacked last year fill a new book that hits stores just as campaigning for regional elections steps up.
Published by the Mondadori company that Berlusconi owns, "Love always wins over envy and hatred" collates some of the 50,000 messages of support that poured in after a mentally unstable man smashed a small statue into the premier's face at a rally in December, breaking his teeth and nose.
Berlusconi, who has been embroiled in sex scandals and a fight with the judiciary, saw his popularity rise just after the attack. But corruption scandals and bungling over ballot lists for regional polls have prompted a slide in ratings recently.
The messages from across Italy to as far away as Vietnam run the gamut from defiant -- "Show them you're indestructible!" -- to desperate and sentimental -- "We beg you, don't abandon us and do clone yourself if you can" -- to verging on hysteria.
"On seeing you covered in blood, my wife grabbed her hair and sobbed as she yelled 'My Madonna, save Silvio!'" wrote Carlo F. "Prime Minister, we're at the edge of a precipice: only you can save us and guarantee a future to our grandchildren. We have prayed for you and will continue to do so every day."
In another, "Grandma Norina" called on Berlusconi's deceased mother for help: "Your mamma in the heavens will protect you and give you the strength and serenity to continue your job."
Others wrote to say they wept, that "I'm hurt like as if my father had been hit" and "Without you I'd leave Italy."
ELECTION THIS MONTH Continued...