Before 9/11, Rudy Giuliani was known in the national media for his bad break up with his second wife Donna Hanover amid accusations of infidelity with a member of his staff (Cristyne Lategano) and a sales manager (Judith Nathan). After 9/11, Giuliani became known as America’s Mayor for his performance in leading New York City in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Almost immediately members of the press began speculating on his presidential ambitions. The New York Times, on September 25, 2001, a little more than a week after the attacks publishes the views of some New Yorkers on Rudy
‘I think he’s done a wonderful job in holding New York together, and quite possibly making the rest of the country feel like New Yorkers at this time. I heard someone say he looks like our next president. As a Democrat, frankly I don’t know about that. I wonder how Bush feels.’
Now, Rudy faces questions not about his marriage but about whether or not he can win the Republican nomination and more importantly, the presidency. According to DailyWrit’s election tracker (courtesy of James), Rudy’s polling in the high teens in the Iowa caucus among Republicans.
On the bright side, Rudy is the only leading Republican contender to raise more money in his second quarter than in his first as Robert Bluey notes. However, Rudy still faces some hurdles within the party base and with his organization. Recently, Thomas Ravel, Giuliani’s SC campaign chairman was indicted not for corruption but rather cocaine peddling…TPC underscores how this scandal could erupt in the pivotal SC Republican primary.
Ultimately, I don’t think Giuliani will win the Republican nomination but if he does, he’ll have to do two things…
1) He has to make the electability argument as Powerline does so eloquently. He has to make it early to frame the primary in the minds of voters. Framing is really crucial and the candidate who does this the most effectivly will win Democrat or Republican. For example, in the 2004 election , John Kerry and his team wanted to frame the election as a referendum on Bush. Consequently, they paid a lot of attention to right track/wrong track polls an Bush’s approval ratings. However, the Bush team wanted to frame the election in terms of Bush vs Kerry, not just Bush vs any other alternative candidate. As we all know, Bush won the framing debate and the presidency. In order for Giuliani to win, the people who are willing to take 4 hours out of their evening to attend the caucus in Iowa HAVE to make their choice based on how the Republican nominee does against Hillary, Obama or Edwards. By framing the choice among Republican primary voters in those terms, he can overcome his past stances on abortion and gay rights. After all, this is not the picture of himself Rudy wants in the minds of many Republicans (with the exception of log cabin Republicans).
Moreover, John Kerry’s argument in the primaries to voters was largely based on how his biography as a Vietnam War vet would inoculate him from criticisms of being weak on terrorism. Obviously it worked for Iowans…in the primaries. Moreover, Rudy has to make the electability argument often. Only then, can he frame the choices among Republican primary voters. What can’t happen though is if the Republican primary becomes who is the next Ronald Reagan or who is the most conservative. If that’s the race, then either Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney takes it hands down. However, Rudy can’t make the electability argument overtly because it makes voters feel cynical ie, he cannot say “alright guys, we disagree on abortion, gun control, and etc, but vote for me because if you think I’m bad…wait till you see Bill and Hill in the Oval Office. Alright thank you Charleston!” Most political scientists agree that voters don’t approach the ballot box with a checklist of issues and match them up robotically with the candidate who agrees with them the most. Things like character and other intangibles go into play as well.
2) Rudy has to find another defining issue(such as fiscal discipline) aside from his alleged strength on terror. Today’s Boston Globe does a nice job discussing how Rudy’s wrapped 9/11 around himself.
“He really defined leadership in the aftermath of 9/11, and that is something that is uniquely his own,” said John Zogby , an independent pollster based in upstate New York. “But he does need a second act, possibly even a third act. This is where we get into uncharted waters.”
However, by centering his campaign around 9-11, Rudy opens himself up to attacks from numerous organizations that undermine the leadership he showed on that day. Firefighters for example allege that Rudy underfunded them and did not provide them with adequate equipment. Moreover, it’s harder to link Rudy’s performance in the days following 9-11 to his foreign policy expertise specifically with how he would deal with our involvement in Iraq. Arguing that we have to “stay on the offense” against terror doesn’t exactly show foreign policy credentials. For instance, Rudy hasn’t even been to Iraq yet and he left the Iraq Study Group because of scheduling conflicts (he was busy making speeches for upwards of $50K a pop). TPMcafe does a nice job of exposing Rudy’s responses to these allegations.
Despite Rudy’s impressive fundraising, he has to be able to minimize the differences between his past policy positions and his present ones in such a way as not to open himself up to charges of pandering and flip flopping. After all, if the 2004 election taught us anything, the American public values their perception of a candidate’s character over the candidate’s stance on a list of issues. At the same time, he has to make Republican primary voters vote pragmatically rather than ideology. If he doesn’t win the republican nomination, look for him to continue to rake in the cash as a lobbyist or a speaker. If he does win the Republican nomination, Democrats better look out because he’s their worst nightmare provided the Republican nomination fight didn’t damage his character too much or force him so far right that he’s unable to triangulate his way to the center.