Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cillizza Ignores the Real Frontrunner

Just when he finally seemed to be seeing the light, The Fix's Chris Cillizza re-relegates Rudy to chopped-meat status, and treats the Mayor as if he weren't even running. For Washington reporters, McCain continues to be the sun their whole world revolves around.

Here's his McCain breakdown:

John McCain: Any regular reader of The Fix knows that we continue to be impressed by how well McCain and his advisers are playing the inside game. Every day that goes by without a clear "establishment" candidate running in opposition to him is a day that the Arizona senator, his staff or his surrogates are working to build bridges with individuals and groups who opposed him in 2000. The upcoming midterm elections will be a telling indication of whether McCain can make a reasonable case as the institutional candidate. If Republicans suffer major losses at the House and Senate level, it will open a lot of doors for McCain among folks who believe he is their best -- and only -- chance to hold the White House in 2008.

...and only?

I'll repeat. Who has a net favorable rating that's 10 points higher than McCain? Who is more popular than McCain amongst conservative Republicans? Whose ratings amongst Democrats and independents are holding steady while McCain comes to be seen as a more conventional Republican pandering to the religious right? Who is still beating Hillary Clinton handily in every poll?

The answer is a certain former Mayor of New York.

Beltway insiders love McCain precisely because of that first highlighted comment: he's playing the inside game. He gives reporters something plenty to cover two and a half years before the real election. McCain isn't the only candidate Cillizza likes. The straight-talking Mike Huckabee is another. But Cillizza has a beef with Huckabee that he's voiced on a few occasions, and it isn't about policy, or electability. It's that he isn't hiring enough staff, he isn't showing enough leg in Iowa.

How much do these moves really matter this far out, especially if you're in prime position like Giuliani is? Hiring staff or rolling out a 50-person Iowa team may excite reporters, but it has little impact with real voters -- or the gatekeepers that matter. Does Cillizza understand what's going to happen when Rush Limbaugh mobilizes his 20 million listeners against McCain?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in The Fix's comments area.

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