WaPo's Glenn Frankel Falsely States that Rudy Runs Second in the Polls
I don't want to begrude McCain his big profile in the WaPo's Sunday magazine. With all his complexities and contradictions, he makes an interesting subject. But this meme is just outright inaccurate, and needs to be killed dead, dead, dead:
Early polls indicate he gets twice as much support as any other likely Republican candidate except Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, who runs close behind. (emphasis)
Not in the Pew poll taken last week. Not in any national poll taken this year -- except for Cook Political (whose pollster took a gig with the McCain camp). Not in Iowa. Not in Strategic Vision's multi-state surveys.
Frankel is holding an online chat about this piece Monday at noon. Why not help correct the record by submitting a question?
Rudy is the legitimate frontrunner for the '08 nomination, by virtue of his standing in polls and the enthusiasm he seems to generate across the Republican spectrum, most notably among the more conservative political early-adopter types outside D.C.
McCain is a potential frontrunner who runs close behind Rudy in polls but far behind him in grassroots enthusiasm. He is putting together a strong organization, copying what he believes was the Bush model from '00. He says so much in the piece:
Then, more seriously: "I think it's very clear that then-Gov. Bush had the support of the Republican establishment. He worked hard for it, and he gained it, and he deserved it." Leaving little doubt that McCain would like to accomplish the same thing himself this time around.
The thing is, that wasn't really the Bush model. I suspect if you ask a reporter, they'll tell you that was the Bush model. Even Karl Rove might describe the Bush model this way.
But the simple fact is that Bush was well out in front in the polls before he started signing consultants. It was clear from the very beginning he was a man rank-and-file Republicans could support. In 1998, I was certain George W. Bush would be the nominee and was as excited about him then as I am about Rudy Giuliani now. Bush wasn't crowned in the Beltway, though goodwill for his father certainly had something to do with it. The Bush ascendancy in '98-'99 was all about Austin, his outsider/reformer image, and his support among the rank-and-file. Seeking a winner, the big money and the huge organization followed after.
McCain's message right now is all about his organization. He's not developing a policy rationale -- at least not one that's compelling to conservatives. And it's going to haunt him. Because if 2008 is anything like 2000, the base is going to want to like its nominee and not just feel steamrolled into supporting them.
As an early Bush supporter in '00, Rudy '08 almost feels like deja vu.