Front Row: Giuliani’s losing strategy: The Swamp
 
The Swamp
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Posted January 16, 2008 9:00 AM
The Swamp

west

by Paul West

The early results from the 2008 primaries and caucuses have been rolling in, and the verdict is clear: Rudy can't fail.

When he launched his presidential campaign in Iowa last spring, Rudolph Giuliani boasted that he would "win the caucus, and surprise everybody."

He didn't, of course. The biggest surprise of the Giuliani campaign has been how successful he has been in spinning his failures and continuing to be considered a serious contender, despite an unblemished record of futility that has him on pace to be the largest flop of 2008 and one of the biggest busts in presidential campaign history.

You could look it up, in the immortal words of the old professor, Casey Stengel, late of Rudy's beloved New York Yankees (except when he was pulling for Boston, as part of a transparent effort to court denizens of Red Sox nation in neighboring New Hampshire).

In Iowa, Rudy finished sixth, with less than four percent of the vote, despite visiting more than 30 Iowa cities and campaigning in the state, off and on, until the weekend before the vote.

The mayor explained his decision not to compete more seriously in the first voter test of 2008 as a strategic move.

This is the strategy we selected pretty close to day one,'' he told reporters on the day Iowans voted. He was speaking from New Hampshire, which was holding its primary the following week and where he pushed much harder than he did in Iowa.

New Hampshire became Giuliani's focus last fall, once it became clear to his advisers that early voting states might, once again, play an outsized role in picking the nominee. It was risky to wait until Florida, the second big state, after Michigan, that would vote in January, since national attention would be focused on the early contests.

So, in mid-November, Giuliani began airing the first TV commercials of his national campaign - not in Florida, but in New Hampshire. There, as an Easterner, he figured to do better than in the Corn Belt. He wound up spending an estimated $3 million, perhaps even more.

His TV commercials, touting an I'll-keep-you-safe-from-terrorism message, were still being beamed at New Hampshire voters as they went to their polling places this month. By some estimates, Giuliani came close to spending as much as John McCain, who wound up winning the state.

"We put a lot of time into New Hampshire," Giuliani said on primary day in the Granite State. According to various estimates by news media organizations and others, he conducted more than 130 campaign events, spread out over 40-plus campaign days.

"I think we'll do well here," he added, in the election-day interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News.

But when the first primary votes were counted, Giuliani barely managed to nose out Ron Paul for fourth place. He got 9 percent and no convention delegates. Independent analysts, such as University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith, said the more Giuliani campaigned, the worse he did.

It was becoming clear. The Giuliani strategy was indeed unique: Winning by losing.

At this writing, after his sixth-place finish in Michigan, Rudy's got a chance to break the record for futility in a presidential campaign.

His more than $50 million candidacy is threatening the mark set by another tough-talking Republican who bombed: John Connally of Texas, who spent $11 million and got one delegate.

Giuliani was the front-runner in the national polls for most of the past year. Those numbers largely reflected the positive publicity he got in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

What's somewhat harder to explain is why perceptions of Giuliani's reverse momentum have been slow to influence coverage of his campaign.

The story line that has become conventional wisdom: Giuliani has decided to focus on later states, with a risky strategy of jump-starting his candidacy in Florida.

By playing down, or ignoring, his failures in New Hampshire and elsewhere, the conventional view has become that Rudy is gambling everything on an unconventional plan. The columnist George Will, who is hardly alone in perpetuating this myth, wrote recently that Giuliani "has been treading water, waiting for Florida" (rather than drowning with other also-rans, like Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul).

It's been said that Giuliani is letting the campaign come to him, and that this has never been attempted before.

Actually, it has, and it failed. Al Gore took essentially the same approach in 1988, and for much the same reason: He was too weak to win the early states, so he abandoned them and chose a later start. Gore put little effort into Iowa and New Hampshire, hoping that once the race got to the South on Super Tuesday, he'd put himself into contention. He did win some states that day, but he went nowhere after that.

Is Giuliani's candidacy facing a similarly ignominious end? He raised more money than any of his Republican rivals during the first nine months of the campaign. Now he's low on dough. Because he relied mainly on wealthy donors, he failed to establish a broad fund-raising base. Most of his donors, many from New York's financial community, have maxed out and can't give more (others didn't get rich by putting money into hopeless ventures). His top aides are now volunteers, conserving the money that's left for Florida advertising.

His popularity has nosedived in Florida, and he's lost two-thirds of his support in national polls. He's gone from first to fourth in a matter of weeks, as the early states began voting, just as those who have seen this movie before knew would happen.

And yet.

He could still become the Republican nominee. John McCain's failure to repeat his 2000 primary victory in Michigan this week has thrown the Republican contest wide open. If McCain loses the South Carolina's primary this Saturday, as many are predicting, he may start looking like a one-state (New Hampshire) wonder.

Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and, perhaps, McCain could be difficult obstacles for Giuliani to overcome in the Sunshine State, even though he's had it largely to himself, while they've been winning elsewhere.

If Giuliani rallies to take Florida, he'll enter the big round of Feb. 5 primaries with a real chance to win. Then, the most improbable strategy of the year will look like a stroke of genius, even though it was a matter of necessity, rather than choice.

If not, he'll go down as something else: the king of spin in 2008.

Paul West is the Baltimore Sun's bureau chief in Washington. He joined the paper as national political correspondent and has covered every presidential campaign since the 1980s. Before coming to Washington, he was a reporter in Texas and Georgia, where he covered education, the federal courts and local and state government and politics.

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Comments

The Fall of Rudy has been a pleasure to watch. Still, he has some serious competition in the "worst candidacy" contest.
Fred thought that staying in bed until 5PM would make him all rested for dinnertime, but when he got to the table, all he got was half a tuna sandwich and a can of beenie-weenies.


Bottom line: Ghouliani is not likeable. He was unpopular until he took advantage of 9/11 and exploited it in his favor. He went to the well too many times and now it is plane to see to everyone that this man is a scumbag. Look at his family values, his friendships with unsavory characters, and even the mobsters who handle his security detail, Ghouliani is a trainwreck. Please nominate him.


Rudolph's record is clear;

Candidate Research - Know Who you're Voting For ( The Easy Way )
http://tinyurl.com/2sowta


Rudy who?


I respect those who are in the dogfight, even if they're losing. I don't respect someone who thinks they're above it all, thinks they can take a shortcut, or someone who expects his party to beg him to be president. Seems like Giuliani and Thompson fall into those categories, and I think they're going to lose.


I'm just happy to see Ghouliani losing to Paul after embarrasing himself by saying that is was preposterous to think that our foriegn policy might have something to do with 9/11.


The Mayor of 9/11 is running to be President of 9/11.

http://tinyurl.com/2nrmbj


This blog posting is anything but politically sound. It's a lot more like advocacy and spin. Any knowledgeable person could have told you that his significant leads in the national polls would evaporate once the race got heated and people started paying attention. He still has broad support and remains very viable.

The traditional model has been to build momentum in the early states to carry you forward so that's the manner in which you are analyzing the race, but so far the momentum hasn't helped anyone because each of the early states had special circumstances. Realizing that his positions weren't a perfect fit for the Evangelical electorate in Iowa, he decided to skip it. The it became apparent that his primary competition was likely to be Mitt Romney, so he decided rather than trying to split the non-Romney vote for which he occupies the same space as McCain, he decided he needed to sit out NH so that McCain would prevail there. Even if he had wanted to win, it would have been difficult since McCain is royalty there having won before and Romney is almost a native son. The same happens in Michigan where McCain previously won and Mitt Romney was again a native son. SC is clearly an area where the two southerners and military hero McCain have great advantages, so he's sitting that out to. A Poll just a few days ago puts him in a high second place in Nevada, but he's not going to make an effort there either because Caucuses are extremely difficult to predict if your resources will be useful and Florida is a much more important primary with many more delegates available in a winner take all primary rather then being just stage one of a multi-part caucus.

He remains one of the national favorites and the candidate best prepared to compete against the Democrats in the general election because of his appeal to Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans, so it pays for him to wait until a favorable state where there isn't someone with an unusual advantage.

If he wins Florida, he will be the delegate leader and well positioned for the national primary on Feb 5th. He has natural advantages in most the of the winner take all states, and will likely take most of them putting him in the overall delegate lead.

So it all comes down to whether he does well in Florida. Although McCain has gotten a momentum bump that has pushed him two points over Rudy in several respectable polls, that was based on his momentum from NH, momentum that appears to have faded and will be a distant memory by Florida if he doesn't win SC, which appears unlikely. As you've seen in the other states, McCain has had difficulty connecting with the Republican base in the primaries so far, doing well because they were open primaries. Florida is not an open primary and most going forward are not.

Rudy seems very well positioned. Florida, despite how some might like to portray it, is not a particularly regional state, on the whole. Parts of it are Southern, but they also appear to be strong areas for Rudy. The rest are cosmopolitan mixes of people from all over the country, though that does include many NYers.

While the S FL counties of Palm Beach and Broward are majority democratic, they also have more Republican voters than almost any other county in Florida. Rudy might not win, it's hard to say for sure, but since its the first state he's actively campaigning in, as opposed to just running ads, he is gaining quite a bit of traction.

The wide open race means no one has momentum to carry them above their natural support level except perhaps Huckabee who probably cannot carry the state since the southern parts are a minority of the state and he has been unable to expand his support much past the Evangelical base.

That leaves it open for Rudy to take...it's not a sure thing, but it is likely. if he wins Florida, he's probably back to the front runner, in delegates if not polling. He's still viable and strong.


I can't imagine who the kids he has working for him are that they sold their candidate on the idea that ignoring the first five primaries was somehow a winning strategy. Bizarre.


Alan...good post. But you forgot to tell them to write his name down so they don't forget it.


Americans knew a steaming turd in a suit when they saw one, this time anyway.

He Juliannie! Nice strategey! Have your a$$ handed to you by Ron Paul!


RUDY is a 'gambler' rolling all he has got on FLORIDA and SUPER TUESDAY!!! Ignoring the podunk primaries of IOWA, N.H.; to concentrate on the rich delegate states where his 'national appeal' will trump the other candidates - he hopes!?! NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT 'RUDY' DOESN'T HAVE THE NY-EUPHEMISM HUTZPAH!!!


Is there a way to make Rudi 'go away' 'permanently' ??


Rudy is going to win Florida, and will win most of the Feb. 5th states. Then he'll win the nomination, and then the presidency. Here's why:

“Mayor Giuliani Inherited $2.3 Billion Budget Deficit And Turned It Into Multi-Billion Dollar Surplus.”(Steven Lee Myers,“A Deficit Revisited,” The New York Times, 7/31/94.)

NYC’s crime reduction under Giuliani was THREE TO SIX TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE! He turned NYC into the safest big city in America.

I was in NYC on 9/11 - all I can say is that from great tragedies, sometimes great heroes emerge. Rudy was a hero to all New Yorkers, and the nation, on that day - we all thanked God when he got on the air and let us know he was in command.

But you know, all I need to know about Rudy is this: in 1995, NYC hosted a big event at Lincoln Center for various foreign dignitaries. Guess who crashed the party? Yasser Arafat. Rudy’s response? HE THREW THE TERRORIST BASTARD OUT THE DOOR! When the city’s liberal elite cried foul, Giuliani replied, "I would not invite Yasser Arafat to anything, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I don’t forget."

BE VOCAL, BE LOCAL – let’s get this guy elected! The time to act is NOW!


Joe C.

Just don't pull out your wallet around him.
He may think it's a gun and grease you.


And now Rudy the Cross Dresser, the person who raised more money than any Republic Party hack running for president, has a campaign that is almost flat broke and is asking his staff to work WITHOUT PAY!

What a loser!


The media is so intent on choosing the next president, but the people do have power over the media.

"Thompson and Giuliani, despite their strong national profiles, last night still placed behind Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul , who had six percent."

Watch out! Here comes Ron Paul Revere! Go Ron Paul!

CQ TODAY; CQ Politics;
"The Tale of Michigan’s Also-Rans"
By Rachel Kapochunas, CQ Staff
Jan. 16, 2008 – 1:24 p.m.


I agree with Tom above; I think Rudy's approach is arrogant and disrespectful of the electorate, and he's going to find out the hard way. It's about time this man came off the inflated pedestal of 9/11. Another thing I read is that he campaigned in Florida, New Jersey, NY, CT, and Delaware quietly to get those states to be winner take all so he could get ALL the delegates from those states, since they have a huge number of delegates and are all states most likely to vote for him. I think that's sleazy and again, cynical and co-opting the democratic process to have something go in his favor. Another example of why we need a one person-one vote system throughout the country so creeps like him can't manipulate the system. If Americans hear this crap, they won't vote for him. He underestimates and hold the american people in contempt and thinks he's going to be the nominee not by honest hard work and sweat and tears, but by clever outfoxing of the electorate. Well, he's dead wrong. Give me Romney any day over Giuliani-- he may seem phony, but at least he put in hard work, as did all the other candidates.


I think you're going to find that Rudy has very LITTLE crossover appeal these days, since he just sounds like George Bush times five.


I'm a supporter of Rudy Giuliani and truly believe his strategy is something that is genious. Rudy looked at the playing field awhile back and knew he had no shot in the early states, his only shot before Florida would be Nevada, which may actually be winnable for him Saturday.

I feel Rudy is a strong leader and has as many liberal beliefs as McCain, Romney, and Huckabee. Bottom line is I will not tolerate a Democrat in office, and us Republican's need to stick together come the fall to make sure the GOP Retains hold of the White House for FOUR MORE YEARS!


I'm a supporter of Rudy Giuliani and truly believe his strategy is something that is genious.
Posted by: ytowner | January 16, 2008 10:50 PM

Would that be more or less genious than putting a command post in the very same place that was attacked before?
BRILLIANT!


Go Romney!


Isn't it interesting that the only person commenting here for Ron Paul wasted his time by using foul language to promote his candidate. This is so typical of the Ron Paul Spammers. If only they would grow up and get out of the third grade.
That said, I think Rudy should stay in NYC and continue on with his crusade there. He isn't qualified to run on the Republican ticket and has the morals of a jack rabbit.


I used to like and respect Rudy Giuliani. I don't feel that way any longer. I'm now seeing a sleazy side to him that I didn't see before. It appears he has some questionable close friends and associates, like Bernard Kerik. I find it hard to believe that Giuliani didn't have any idea of what was going on here.

I also was frankly, shocked, when I heard that Giuliani was using NYC taxpayer funds to hide his affair with his then mistress. And then it appears he was moving those funds around, in a sneaky way, to keep this affair secret. This just smells bad. And this isn't the behavior I want in a chief executive. We've had too much of this in public life.

Also, even though many people admired Giuliani for 9/11, what real experience does he have with foreign policy? True, he was mayor on that terrible day, but does that mean he really understands foreign policy or international relations? Will he do the right thing regarding other countries or will he just "shoot from the hip"?

However, it is true that Giuliani has made multiple millions from 9/11. I've read that he has marketed himself since that awful day as a "leadership" example and that he has taken millions from big corporations, including some questionable pharmaceutical firms. This makes me wonder if he's been exploiting the deaths of those people on 9/11 as a way to enrich himself.

A few months ago I considered myself a Giuliani supporter. I can no longer vote for him based on what I've now learned. Any alternative suggestions?


I'm really going to laugh if Ron Paul beats Rudy again...


Those of you who do not live in New York City have no idea how bad Giuliani would be as Commander-In-Chief.

He surrounds himself with less talented cronies so that none of his decisions can be challenged.

He is devoted only to his own success, principle be damned.

There is ample evidence of this in the public record. See who he put in charge of the Police and Fire Departments, during his tenure. Look into his relationships with Rupert Murdoch, George Steinbrenner, and even Donald Trump to see how he uses money and connections to further his own career.

If a man's own children cannot support him for President, how can we?

And those advocating that his Florida strategy is so brilliant, you spell "genious":
g-e-n-i-u-s.


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