Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Friday, September 29, 2006

Staffing Up: Welcome DaveG to Giuliani Blog

The Rudy Giuliani national grassroots blogger organization is growing in preparation for a campaign as we welcome longtime reader and R4'08 blogger DaveG to Giuliani Blog.

Dave is a whip-smart and incisive observer of the political scene. He's been slicing and dicing the numbers on the '08 field for months, and understands the dynamics of this race better than anyone in the blogosphere or the mainstream media. Dave is smarter about politics than Charlie Cook. Mark my words: he's headed for great things.

I am proud to welcome DaveG to Giuliani Blog!

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Strategic Vision PA & WA: Is Rudy Pulling Away?

Strategic Vision Pennsylvania (September 22-24, 2006):

19. Who is your choice for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008? (Republicans only.)
Rudy Giuliani 45%
John McCain 22%
Mitt Romney 7%
Newt Gingrich 6%
Bill Frist 2%
George Allen 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
George Pataki 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 14%

Strategic Vision Washington (September 22-24, 2006):

21. For the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Republicans Only)
Rudy Giuliani 43%
John McCain 24%
Mitt Romney 7%
Newt Gingrich 6%
Bill Frist 2%
George Allen 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
George Pataki 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 14%

It's not just that Rudy leads anymore. It's the double digit leads. We didn't see that many of those earlier in the year, and now they're becoming more and more common.

Combined with the seeming dissension in the establishment ranks with Romney picking up the support of Tom Rath in NH and with Sen. Jim DeMint clearly not jumping aboard with Straight Talk, it is also clear that McCain is not the lock on the nomination a lot of people thought he was judging by conventional media yardsticks.

Rudy seems to be peaking at just the right time. As the decision on a run for the Presidency nears, he sports a comfortable lead over Senator McCain both nationally and in a broadly representative group of states across the country.

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Leftovers: Giuliani's First Post-Election Stop

I didn't cover this earlier in the week, but the timing of Rudy's November 12th visit triggered the same bell with NYDN's David Saltonstall as it did with me. I think Saltonstall goes a bit too far with his other implications though:

But the former mayor plans to dive headfirst into presidential waters on Nov. 12 - five days after the upcoming election - when he hits northern Pennsylvania, one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the U.S.

Giuliani is headed to Wilkes-Barre to deliver a college lecture on leadership, at a forum headlined last year by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In 2004, both President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry made the Wilkes-Barre area their first postconvention stop - a sign of how up for grabs votes are in the region, which voted for Republican Ronald Reagan in the '80s but Democrat Bill Clinton in the'90s.

It's significant to note that Rudy is already planning his schedule for after the election. I don't think it is to point out the general election voting tendencies of the states he's going to. He's got to get through the primary first after all.

Nonetheless: This is a reminder that the official decision period for Giuliani '08 is about to begin. If you thought '08 speculation was rampant now, wait until after the election. As soon as the votes are counted, Rudy (and everyone else) is on the clock to jump into the race, a process that will likely extend into early next year. (In 1999, the then-frontrunner George W. Bush didn't officially form an exploratory committee until March.)

Rudy will be making plenty of appearances both before and after the election, and if he happens to be in your town, it's important to attend the event and show your support for his campaign. Normally, Rudy also takes questions from the audience. In August, GB blogger Kavon Nikrad got to ask Rudy a question about judicial nominations which yielded a very revealing and encouraging answer. If you're in a position to attend a Giuliani event, show your support with a button or a homemade sign, and be sure to ask the Mayor a question.

Email rudyblogger+events at if Rudy will be in your town for ideas on what you can do to show your support and to send us a report after the event.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dog Catchers for McCain

Think the dueling staff announcements from McCain and Romney are getting a bit ridiculous? (Even Hotline is getting a bit jaded.) Well, this press release just crossed our transom...

Eighteen [Count 'em, Eighteen!] New Hampshire Dog Catchers Join Straight Talk America

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- Eighteen New Hampshire dog catchers will join Straight Talk America, forming a dog catchers' advisory council that will advise Senator McCain on their expertise in canine capture and other issues.

The group is led by Susan Alfred, President of the New Hampshire Association of Dog Catchers in 1992-93 and Bush 2000 supporter, who noted, "Imagine my surprise when I picked up the phone and, oh my, it was John McCain. We're just tickled pink that someone is finally noticing us!"

John Weaver, senior adviser to Straight Talk America, said this about this significant "get": "Their experience rounding up puppies and other stray animals is especially appropriate to lassoing Republicans to the polls in 2006. They will also be valued members of the team should Senator McCain make the ultimate decision."

Said Senator McCain, "In their capacity as dog catchers, these community leaders are influentials of the highest order. They are grizzled campaign veterans, eeking out election victories by the razor tight margins of 64 votes to 58, 33 to 31, and 19 to 18."

The announcement caps off a busy week for Straight Talk America, including the announcement of a Mainstream Media Advisory Committee led by Charlie Cook, Chuck Todd, and Mark Halperin, the rollout of sixty-four new state and regional auxiliaries of Political Consultants for McCain, and the recruitment of three Voters for McCain.


< /satire>

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Rudy Sets The Clintons Straight

Regarding playing the "blame game" over 9/11:

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani characterized Bill and Hillary Clinton's recent criticism of President Bush's efforts to stop Osama bin Laden before 9/11 as a "mistake" and said it's time to "stop this blame thing" over who is responsible for the September 11 attacks.

I think the comparison is the mistake," Giuliani told NewsMax and other media during a luncheon Wednesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., while on a campaign stop for Congressman Clay Shaw, R-Fla., who is seeking re-election.

"I don't think the Clinton people should be saying somehow it's more President Bush's responsibility," Giuliani said when asked about Hillary's recent statements about Sept. 11.

"I know President Bush doesn't say that about President Clinton," said Giuliani. "I think the reality is that any American president, if they had known about an attack, would have done everything they could to stop it."

The real fault for 9/11, Giuliani says, lies squarely with the Islamic terrorists. He added, "I think we should stop trying to blame our presidents for 9/11."

Frequently mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2008, Giuliani characterized the latest war of words over who is responsible for 9/11 as a distraction. "We should stop this blame thing," he said. "There's no blame to be cast on President Bush or President Clinton."

Giuliani added that he thinks we should stop getting distracted by trying to figure out what American is responsible for the terrorist attacks, saying "Americans didn't do Sept. 11, the Islamic terrorists did."

In his remarks during the campaign stop, Giuliani credited President Bush's aggressive anti-terror policy for the fact the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11.

"The reality is, thank God, we haven't been attacked in five years," Giuliani said. "None of us thought that was possible. We all thought that after 9/11 we would be attacked. I personally thought many times."

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

GOP Picks Twin Cities for 2008 Convention

It's official. Rudy Giuliani will accept the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The convention will be held from September 1-4, 2008, replicating the brilliant timing of the 2004 convention and giving Mayor Giuliani the upper hand as he heads into the final two months to victory.

The Bij, who hails from the Twin Cities, must be doing somersaults right now.

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Poll Watch - Strategic Vision Florida & Georgia

Rudy leads big in these two Southern States:

Strategic Vision Florida, Sept. 22-24, 2006

Who is your first choice for the Republican nomination in 2008? (Republicans only)

Rudy Giuliani 43%
John McCain 25%
Mitt Romney 7%
Newt Gingrich 5%
Bill Frist 2%
George Allen 1%
George Pataki 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 14%

Strategic Vision Georgia, Sept. 22-24, 2006

For the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Republicans Only)

Rudy Giuliani 33%
John McCain 19%
Newt Gingrich 14%
Mitt Romney 7%
Bill Frist 3%
George Allen 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
George Pataki 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 20%

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Confronting the Name ID Argument

The most common objection to my pro-Rudy analysis is the Name ID argument. Which basically boils down to:

1) Rudy's high poll numbers are driven by his near-total name recognition and the fact that he hasn't been in the public eye much. Once people find out about X, Y, and Z, his favorable numbers will go down.

2) No one knows about My Candidate yet. Once people find out about X, Y, and Z, his favorable numbers will go up.

Let's take the different components of this argument one by one. And you'd be surprised to know that I agree with much if not most of it. 

Will Rudy's favorable numbers go down once he announces?

Probably. If for the simple reason that they have nowhere to go but down.

So, RudyBlogger, is the sky falling?

Nope, not quite. In fact, this happens to most candidates throughout the course of a general election campaign. They establish a first beachhead of recognition with a big breakthrough win, and that is gradually whittled away at once they start aggressively campaigning and are attacked in earnest. It's happened to every non-incumbent Presidential nominee in modern memory. Eventually, people need to choose sides, either for or against, and people need to rationalize their against votes by moving into the unfavorable column.

What differentiates Rudy is that he starts out so high. He has plenty of room to fall. McCain is already near the breaking point with Republicans. Hillary is at the breaking point with the general electorate. And all of them will take a favorability hit once they start campaigning, not just Rudy.

Won't Rudy's numbers just utterly tank when people find out X, Y, and Z about him?

I'm betting no, at least no more so than a normal candidate who is being re-exposed to the limelight.

What makes me so confident in making this prediction? It's easy. Once someone has established a certain image, and held on to it for so long, it's unlikely to transform into something totally different. Secular factors like being in and out of the public eye may make it fluctuate, but within the same broad range.

Look at Bush's favorables over time. No matter what he does, he'll probably never be loved by more than 51% of the population. Even as his job approval bottomed out earlier this year, his favorable / unfavorable numbers stayed more constant. McCain's fav/unfav probably saw more rapid change in the six weeks when the live bullets were flying in 2000 than in the six years since. Rudy's numbers changed with a transformative event five years ago, and haven't changed much since. Public perceptions of these two are already well formed, and it will be much harder to change perceptions of them than it will be for a lesser known candidate. Both will see natural declines as they re-enter the arena, but the guy with the higher ratings (especially amongst Republicans) still has the natural advantage.

Yeah, Yeah, but isn't Rudy especially vulnerable?

Let's say I'm skeptical that the deeply personal, gut-level connection Rudy has established with voters will be dislodged by repetition of a standard litany of issues. Anti-Rudyites are going to have to swiftboat him on something else. Not saying it's not possible, just unlikely based on the strategy that currently seems to be unfolding.

Won't Romney, Huckabee, Allen, et al. go up once people find out about them?

Yes! I freely admit this!

Or at least it's possible. They can't all go up. They can't all catch fire. But yes -- one of these guys is bound to impress or become a media darling, which will be an early indicator or a surprise showing in one of the early states, which will be the prelude to big national numbers.

Right now, I agree that the most logical contender is Mitt Romney though we all know how quickly that can change and someone can be Macaca'd out the race.

So how do things shake out?

Probably one of the media frontrunners will survive. They always do. There's a reason supporters of dark-horse candidates always go home disappointed.

But the real question about 2008 is: which frontrunner? Can they both survive? Doubtful. McCain starts off the campaign with a hardcore 41% of Republicans who will not vote for him. Because he's been in the public eye so long, he's unlikely to convince very many of them to change. Rudy starts out with nearly 7 in 10 Republicans willing to at least hear him out. We've seen how McCain already starts falling into the teens with the most intense primary voters, and how he bleeds support to Mitt Romney moreso than Rudy.

Based on all this, I still stand by my prediction of a Rudy-Romney race. McCain fails to make headway with conservatives and eventually just hits a wall (and Republicans have no shortage of electable options at this point). Romney keeps wowing folks. And Rudy is dented by picks up residual McCain support to be a contender till the end.

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Ready for Rudy

Deroy Murdock's cover story on Rudy for the American Spectator is now online.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

RudyBlogger Defends Romney

Holy cow. Regardless of who you support, this is simply beyond the pale:

“Brigham Young, who succeeded Smith as church leader, wrote that God put a curse on Cain — a “flat nose and black skin” — for killing his brother Abel.” It’s in a piece by Lee Bandy, describing a confrontation between Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Cindy Mosteller, Chrleston Co. GOP chair, who “came armed” to a state GOP meeting with ” a bunch of material — and questions — about the Mormon church.” “Afterward, Mosteller said the governor did not answer any of her questions. She described the meeting as “very tense.” But “Cindi Costa, a conservative Christian from Charleston and member of the Republican National Committee, waited outside the room. She earlier pleaded with Mosteller not to confront Romney.” Mosteller supported Sen. John McCain in ‘00.

Mosteller isn’t just any McCain supporter. She is chair of the Charleston County GOP, and finished second to Katon Dawson for the chairmanship of the South Carolina party.

Not only did Mosteller’s outburst earn her a rebuke from RNC member Costa, but Dawson stepped in:

Costa said Mosteller’s questioning “besmirches her character. It makes her look hateful. This is not what we’re about. The party does not give religious tests,”

“This is awful,” said Spartanburg GOP chairman Rick Beltram. “I’m unhappy with Cyndi.”

State GOP chairman Katon Dawson isn’t pleased either. “She acted in bad taste.”

Chuck Larson, McCain’s Iowa chair, has apparently said that Mitt Romney belongs to a “cult.” These despicable attacks have become something of a pattern aboard the Straight Talk Express. Will Senator McCain step forward and condemn Mosteller and Larson?

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

WOW. Rudy Killing McCain 2-1 in "Very Favorable" Impressions Among Iowa Voters

Not something I'd picked up on in my first pass at this. But take a look at this chart.

Rudy's got a 71-18 fav/unfav ratio among Iowa voters. McCain is at 59-24.

But that's not what catches my interest. Take a look at the "very favorable" column. Rudy 28, McCain 14.

These aren't the party crosstabs for Republicans. This is among the entire voting population. And we know from previous polls that McCain retains virtually identical fav/unfav ratios with Republicans, Democrats, and independents while Rudy's numbers follow a more partisan path, with slightly lower numbers than McCain among non-Republicans.

The Grubbs poll that showed Rudy out front showed McCain with a similar fav/unfav ratio with Republicans, Rudy in single digits unfav, and favs in the high 60s. I don't think it's all that unreasonable to assume that Rudy holds down a very favorable number in the high 30s/low 40s with caucus-goers, with McCain in the mid-teens.

Why does this matter? Because the Very Favorable universe is the one you use to build your supporter base, and Rudy has more than twice as many Republican voters to work with in Iowa than McCain.

This is why I'm so bullish on Rudy, despite the wise old Beltway hands and McCain/Romney hacks filling the echo chamber claiming otherwise. Every shred of impartial, empirical data confirms this. Don't listen to the pundits. Don't listen to the consultants. Listen to the data. Listen to the ground-level activists and the voters on this one.

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Rudy Leads General Election Matchups in Iowa


(Giuliani beats Clinton 56-37; Edwards, 51-43; and Kerry, 53-40. McCain defeats Clinton 54-37; Edwards, 47-46; and Kerry, 53-39.) ...

That's not exactly a heartwarming send-off for the hometown boy [Vilsack]. And that feeling comes through again in the head to heads. Giuliani beats the governor in Iowa 54-38. McCain defeats him 53-38.

Both Giuliani and McCain seem to beat all comers, but if the Dems nominate a younger candidate like Edwards, McCain is vulnerable. Interesting.

For the benefit of our friends from other campaigns, let's go over this again...

Who can beat Hillary?


Who is liked and trusted by conservatives?

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Organization Debate Continues

R4'08er Republius, as well as reader/R4'08 commenter LJ and Eye on '08 blogger Soren Dayton, two of McCain's biggest boosters in the blogosphere, reply to my organization argument. Dayton writes:

Now, GiulianiBlog has responded quite strongly to this whole line of argumentation. He argues, in essence, that all you need is issues, bio, and personality and organization doesn’t matter.

I think that’s a little strong. Operatives matter. Building a turnout operation matters. And having people vouch for you matters. That’s very clear.

That's not quite the argument. You need an organization to get you past the finish line, but it's one (albeit very important) element of the larger package. What's unclear is how much organization matters in 2006, when only a small fraction of the staffers and fundraisers have committed, and none of these guys has really gotten a chance to prove their viability on the fundraising circuit and on the campaign trail. At this point in the 1996 or 2000 cycles, you could probably write stories about how much Phil Gramm, Lamar Alexander, and Steve Forbes were lapping the field in trips to Iowa and organizational commitments.

Organization is a force multiplier. But for it to work, there needs to be a force to multiply. If you have an army of good salespeople hawking a crappy product, people will see through it 100% of the time.

McCain's brand affinity among the ony voters who matter -- those who vote in Republican primaries -- is close to zero. Rudy Giuliani's is off the charts. McCain has furiously been trying to close the gap by building an organization -- but the foundation is not sound. Note well the timing of the Dave Roederer announcement, in the works for months, which came after a terrible week for McCain and is designed as a warning to the grassroots that they're about to get rolled. And don't doubt for one second they're more worried about Rudy than Mitt Romney.

The notion being propagated by both the McCain and Romney camps that Rudy isn't a real threat, that he won't run, etc. is B.S. spin designed to wave Rudy out of the race. They've all seem the numbers. They know that Rudy extends his lead and McCain becomes a non-factor when you drill down to motivated primary voters. Weaver & Co. know that their only hope is the Hillary fear factor, but that becomes a non-issue if Rudy runs. So their strategy is not to attack Rudy directly, since that probably wouldn't work, but to pooh-pooh his chances to a willing media, to demoralize his inner circle, to make it seem like a wasted effort, to seem like they're gobbling up 100% of political talent -- without actually doing so. In truth, both McCain and Romney know that life becomes a lot easier for them without Rudy in the race.

It's time someone called B.S. on all this. The anti-Rudy storyline isn't analysis. It's a strategy.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Does Organization Matter?

For all the arguments made at Giuliani Blog and Race42008 for why Rudy is the frontrunner, the one our critics keep coming back to is organization. My macro argument has been that the fundamentals --bio, attributes, likeability -- matter far more than organization. Good organization provides that critical 2-3 points in a close race. The candidate supplies everything else. A candidate who spits in the face of the Commander-in-Chief (not to mention the base) who's got a good kitchen cabinet is just lipstick on a pig.

But let's for a moment confront the organization question on its own terms.

To hear certain Beltway media types tell it, everyone else is organizing down to the precinct in Iowa except Rudy.

But that's not strictly true. McCain and Romney have made a point of organizing early. I touched on this tangentially in an earlier post, but both are doing it out of weakness to a certain extent. McCain to prove he can play nice with the establishment and hopefully outrun the conservative new media tsunami that's about to overcome him. And Romney, as a newcomer with no natural organization outside Massachusetts (and perhaps Utah). Romney's early seed-laying has arguably been more impressive as he has yet to break out of single digits in the polls and people are still signing up.

Of the other serious candidates -- Rudy, Allen, Frist, Newt, and Huckabee -- none have organized to the extent McCain and Romney have. This has created a nice sideshow between the two of them but has not seriously dented Rudy's (growing) lead in the polls and his excellent standing with conservatives.

Setting Rudy aside for a moment, let's take a look at where the other campaigns stand organization-wise.

Allen: In retrospect, Allen probably wishes he hadn't run for re-election -- he'd have had a statewide resume 2 1/2 times as long as Mitt Romney's after making the same move. Allen has hired Dick Wadhams as his Karl Rove, is retaining long time strategist Chris LaCivita and has Ed Gillespie and Mary Matalin as advisors but otherwise has not done any hiring in the early states, and his re-election campaign has put the kibosh on in-person campaigning for 2008. Whether or not Allen will fare well after these last two months is another question, but ultimately, Allen made the calculation to run for re-election to the Senate when he was a frontrunning Republican candidate knowing that he'd have to take a pass on hiring Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina staff. It was a risk his seasoned senior staff was entirely willing to make, figuring there'd be plenty of talent to be had after the midterm elections (Hillary has made the same calculation). He may have made a mistake -- but for entirely different reasons.

Frist: Bill Frist has named Brian Kennedy, a former Terry Branstad aide, as his Iowa Chairman but has otherwise been quiet on the hiring front. Granted, his stock in Republican circles isn't the highest right now, but he did have the warewithall to bus hundreds of activists in to vote for him at the SRLC and did receive about 15% of non-Tennessee votes. His missteps as Majority Leader haven't hurt his poll numbers as badly as they could have and he's one or two votes away from ending his tenure on a high note. The further away he gets from that radioactive job, the better he looks. Granted, it's a bit of a stretch, but he could probably build a Romney-like organization if he wanted to. (I mean, even Pataki is hiring people.) For whatever reason, he hasn't.

Newt: Newt is a one-man traveling roadshow. Unless rumors about Vin Weber are to believed, no serious insiders, either nationally or in the states, have signed on to Team Newt. Like Rudy, I believe he enjoys a lot of closet support in surprising quarters, and I'm actually rather bullish on him doing well in the early states and with no organization. Republicans love the guy, and it probably wouldn't stop him from getting 20 percent from frustrated conservatives in Iowa. But they love Rudy even more, and that won't stop him from getting 30 percent plus.

Huckabee: Again, here's an example of a guy with Romney-like potential, who's openly campaigning in Iowa, who fits a perfect niche (Southern social conservative), and who hasn't signed on anyone of note in the early states. Washington wags have practically begged him to do so. Still, no dice.

None of this is to take away from the remarkable job that McCain and Romney have done in places like Michigan and South Carolina. In McCain's case, it's rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, especially after the last week, but nonetheless, hats off.

But it strikes me that the best campaign talent in America probably isn't sitting around waiting for calls from 2008 contenders. They're focused on 2006 and fighting big campaigns -- Schwarzenegger in California, Kennedy in Minnesota, Santorum in Pennsylvania, among others -- or they're at the national party committees or at the White House.

After November, I'm not sure what sense it would make for them to join a top-heavy beast like the Straight Talk Express, where Weaver's going to be calling all the shots anyway and the Bushies will just be for show. With all the folks who have supposedly signed on, people who were very senior in past Republican Presidential campaigns are going to be relegated to second tier position. McCain is running the kind of Noah's Ark campaign that Kerry and Gore ran, and in the end it's just not effective. For many, it will prove a beneficial for their careers bet to join a candidate like Rudy, misunderestimated by the press, where they can have wide latitude without the bureaucracy.

And Rudy's no slouch when it comes to running a tight ship (just ask his mayoral staff). Rudy has long time aides Chris Henick (Karl Rove's former deputy), Tony Carbonetti (his Mayoral chief of staff), and Sunny Mindel (his communications guru). It's not at all dissimilar to Bush's "Iron Triangle" of Karl Rove, Joe Allbaugh, and Karen Hughes. And like Rudy, Bush was later to the game of building an organization, staying coy about his plans as he ran for re-election in 1998, telling people "keep your powder dry" but not inking anyone. Also like Rudy, the Washington people hated it and complained to the press about the unseasoned operatives at the helm in Austin.

Well, we all saw how that worked out.

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Giuliani & Santorum

Very nice web ad featuring Rudy Giuliani for Rick Santorum:

He's scary good.

I was thinking the other day that, win or lose, Rick Santorum would be a great addition to Rudy's campaign team. National Chairman even.

(Via Santorum Blog.)

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Examiner Gives Rudy the Treatment

Today, the Washington Examiner's Bill Sammon continues his "Meet the Next President" series with Rudy Giuliani. The piece begins strong, an example that the social right's paradoxical support for Rudy is becoming ingrained into the conventional wisdom, but goes downhill from there.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — at least on paper — is precisely the sort of candidate that most conservatives would vote against in a GOP presidential primary.

And yet in person, Giuliani is a living reminder of the powerful leadership he displayed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That leadership has translated into enormous credibility on the all-important issue of national security, which Giuliani hopes will assuage conservatives who disagree with his positions on social issues.

The rest of the piece effectively functions as an oppo dump, with the worst tidbits of Rudy's past social libertarianism. I encourage one and all to read it to get a sense of the stuff that's going to be thrown at us in the next year and a half.

The reporter was apparently upset that Giuliani's spokesperson didn't return his calls. That's not innuendo. That's actually in the article.

But to get a sense of just how stale and unoriginal the conventional wisdom is, you have to read the experts' takes...

David Yepsen

Political columnist

Des Moines Register

PRO » “When he has been here, he’s been well received — he’s a rock star. He shows well in the polls.”

CON » “He’s too liberal on social issues. I mean, I just think the Republican Party is a pro-life party, anti-gay rights party. And I think that will really hurt Giuliani in the final analysis.”

Charlie Cook


Cook Political Report

PRO » “The potency of the imagery from 9/11 is very, very strong.”

CON » “I think the social, cultural issues would just cut him up in primaries and caucuses.”

Larry Sabato

Political scientist, University of Virginia

PRO » “America’s Mayor‚ will always be associated with his actions on September 11, which were seen by most as strong and decisive. Terrorism is his issue and it provides cover for more liberal positions on social issues.”

CON » “But those issues — pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay rights and so on — are poison for a large majority of conservative GOP primary and caucus participants.”

They all say the same thing. Pro: 9/11. Con: Social issues. Yawn. I could have told you that. It just goes to show you just how little these analysts have thought through the implications of a Giuliani candidacy.

After 9/11, the Republican Party is first and foremost the party of national security. To suggest that social issues are ultimately more important than national security in the Republican Party strikes me as very dated. In 2000, undoubtedly. And for the hardcore/Freeper/Tancredoite faction, sure. But the dirty little secret here is that these litmus test social conservatives probably represent about 30% of the party -- the same noisy Alan Keyes/Gary Bauer Republicans who never voted for George W. Bush. Republicans won the last two elections on national security, and if they pull the rabbit out of the hat this time, make that three in a row.

Don't get me wrong. Religiously active voters are probably the lion's share of Republicans. But not all of them are litmus test voters, and the non-litmus test voters are the ones who are quite open to a candidate with so many other strengths like Rudy. And that's not counting the economic/national security conservatives Rudy could do very well with.

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Strategic Vision: Rudy Leads in Wisconsin, McCain Leads in Michigan

A few months ago, Rudy was holding on to single-digit leads in the Badger State. Now, it's not even close.

In Michigan, McCain continues to lead (the only state in Strategic Vision polling where he does) because of the goodwill from his dramatic 2000 primary win. But as the campaign heats up, expect Michigan voters to focus on events in 2007 and 2008 and not 2000 in making their decision.

Strategic Vision Wisconsin, Sept. 15th-17th, 2006

Who is your choice for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008? (Tommy Thompson excluded; Republicans only)

Rudy Giuliani 40%
John McCain 23%
Mitt Romney 10%
Newt Gingrich 5%
Bill Frist 4%
George Allen 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
George Pataki 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 14%

Strategic Vision Michigan, Sept. 15th-17th, 2006

For the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Republicans Only)

John McCain 37%
Rudy Giuliani 22%
Mitt Romney 16%
Newt Gingrich 3%
Bill Frist 2%
George Allen 1%
George Pataki 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 16%

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Are You Ready for Rudy '08?

I was thinking something the other day. When Rudy announces, it's going to shock the pundits and turn the political world upside down. Why? Because reading several pieces over the last few days, it's clear that the political establishment doesn't quite know what to make of Rudy's overwhelming support and what it might do to the field.

Over the weekend, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley put Rudy in one of the frontrunner slots if he decides to run:

The venerable Charles Ernest Grassley said on Iowa Press this weekend that for 08 "Only one stands out right now." In his estimation that person is fellow Senator John McCain. He did add the Rudy Giuliani would stand out as well "if he were in campaign mode."

It still amazes me that people say "if he were in campaign mode," but coming from the great state of Iowa, I'll take it.

For another example of this phenomenon, check out Howard Fineman, who suggests that Rudy could be among the candidates to pick up a lot of young Bush aides... if he runs:

Anti-McCain Republicans don’t have a single alternative, but seem to be gravitating to Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The McCain people view him as serious competition: they have been wooing supporters in part by showing them polling match-ups in which McCain defeats Romney. Sen. George Allen of Virginia was last year’s anti-McCainanite, but the bloom – indeed the whole stem – is off of that rose. The Big Unknown: Rudy Giuliani. He’s the only one who can scramble the current outlines of the race, which is: McCain/Romney and a southerner to be named later (Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich, Allen, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas).

Here it's the same thing. We don't know if Rudy's gonna run, but if he does... hold on to your seats. Never mind that he's said through friends he going to run, and he's visiting early primary states like South Carolina and New Hampshire.

A few weeks ago, I too would have worried about Rudy's lack of hiring for an '08 run. But it's now painfully clear that McCain's hiring spasm was borne out of weakness -- weaknesses that were exposed in the last week. He's gone into maverick remission, and he still remains deeply distrusted both outside the Beltway, and it is now clear, inside too. Meanwhile, Rudy has only continued to rise in the polls despite not being in the news very much. He has avoided unneeded scrutiny as he cements his frontrunner status -- but he will need to confront that scrutiny with gusto in '07.

Meanwhile, you'll have to read blogs like this one to figure out what Rudy would do to the race, because the media types won't tell you. A few weeks ago, I laid it all out:

1. January-June 2007: Media is obsessed with the Rudy vs. McCain dynamic, covering their every hire and fundraising report. The race remains relatively static.  
2. Summer 2007: Media notices that a conservative dark horse starts to make a move. Polls begin to look like Rudy 30%, McCain 25%, Conservative "alternative" 15%.
3. Also during Summer 2007: Pundits also notice that McCain, under withering attack from 527s, talk radio and bloggers, hasn't moved at all. A poll or two showing him below 20% gets the media in a tizzy about the bursting of the McCain frontrunner bubble. McCain starts losing what conservative support he had. But the race isn't leaderless -- Rudy is there, deftly taking advantage, and the defection of a major fundraiser or two from McCain is taken as a sign of shifting momentum.
4. Fall-Winter 2007: Polls show Rudy 35%, Conservative "alternative" 20%, McCain 15%.
5. Alternative candidate surges and wins Iowa, with Rudy second. McCain is a distant third.
6. McCain tries to revive in New Hampshire but it's too late. Rudy wins. McCain drops out. 
7. Conservative alternative wins South Carolina and possibly Michigan. But Rudy wins a moved-up Florida primary to shift the momentum back his way.
8. But Rudy cleans up on Super Tuesday, winning New York, California, and Ohio.  

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The McCain-Romney Murder/Suicide

"Murder/Suicide" is a term that entered the political lexicon in 2004's Iowa Caucuses, when Dick Gephardt gratitously attacked Howard Dean and Dean responded in kind, commiting the cardinal sin of singling out one opponent for attack in a multicandidate field and leaving voters to flock to the sunny, optimistic Kerry and Edwards Iowa campaigns.

Is the same dynamic developing between McCain and Romney? Marc Ambinder and Jonathan Martin explore.

Gov. Romney said what many of us were thinking and went after McCain for the "torture" fiasco. In doing so, what was a proxy war broke out into the open. Granted -- it's pretty small beans compared to the vicious stuff that's coming, but the time January 2008 rolls around, their campaign teams are going to HATE each other, and it's going to lead to some pretty nasty attacks in both directions.

Regular readers of this blog will know that in addition to my sincere admiration for Mayor Giuliani, nothing gets me riled up more than the prospect of Senator McCain slipping away with the nomination. But on the official level, Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain get along fine. Their staffs are cordial, from what I hear. I can't imagine being in Mayor Giuliani's inner circle and NOT thinking of this past week as anything but a massive opportunity -- but it doesn't pay to directly attack McCain when others will do it for you. (And besides, McCain's 10-15% support among core primary voters could be what wins us the nomination once he collapses.)

Imagine this scenario heading into Iowa. Romney attacks McCain. McCain attacks Romney. And then there's Rudy, waiting in the wings, staying above the fray, sweeping up the voters tired of the nasty attack politics, winning Iowa and cruising to the nomination.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Former Iowa Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot All But Endorses Giuliani

It looks like Rudy may have a "bagged a whale" in Iowa.

Former Iowa Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot, a strong social conservative, said that the Mayor was "the one person" who could probably get elected because of his proven executive experience. He ruled out Senators as viable candidates because they haven't run anything larger than their office. According to the Iowa Political Alert:

“The one person I think could probably get elected is Giuliani because of what he did in New York,” Lightfoot said. “I really think that governors and mayors of huge cities like New York, I think from the standpoint of demeanor, they are probably better suited for the presidency than a member of Congress or the U.S. Senate.”

Congressmen and senators are little more than CEOs of their own campaigns, Lightfoot said.

“The president is like the head of GM or IBM or any huge company,” Lightfoot said. “The governors have had that and Giuliani has had that in New York.”
Then Lightfoot posed this compelling question: “Pick any member of Congress and put them in New York on 9/11 and what would they have done?”
Lightfoot was twice nominated by Iowa Republicans as their statewide standardbearer, for U.S. Senate in 1996 and Governor in 1998.

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John McCain's Very Bad Weekend in New Hampshire

John McCain visits New Hampshire the weekend after the "torture" debacle, and finds a less than welcoming reception. The New York Times (naturally) gets the exclusive of choppering with the Senator to his NASCAR event:

Mr. McCain said Sunday that he was acting out of conscience, not political calculation, to reinforce an image of independence that has been questioned in recent months as he has supported Mr. Bush on issues like the war in Iraq. Still, he said his office had been deluged with critical phone calls, and that he had picked up enough buzz from conservative radio talk stations to conclude that he might have once again rattled his support among conservatives.

“I would imagine so,” he said, riding in a helicopter rumbling over the New Hampshire hills as it took him to a Nascar race at the New Hampshire International Speedway. “The radio talk show hosts have already been very critical.”

Unfortunately for Senator McCain, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt hold more sway in deciding the Republican primary than Adam Nagourney, or every Iowa and New Hampshire ward heeler combined. The good Senator had previously said that conservative talk radio personalities are bad for America.

The editorial firestorm from the Manchester Union Leader does not go unnoticed:
Still, many conservatives have criticized Mr. McCain for his support for campaign finance legislation, his backing of what they believe are permissive immigration laws, and now this. “The question is being asked: in the midst of the most difficult and challenging war we have ever faced, can the nation afford a President McCain?” The Union-Leader — the largest newspaper in the state, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary — asked in a front-page editorial on Saturday. It was one of two editorials it published this weekend attacking Mr. McCain’s views.
Gov. Romney's seizing this massive opportunity is also noted.

McCain was met with "decidedly light applause" when he brought up the issue at a Republican reception.

Also: note the Union Leader headline: "McCain makes the case for gentler interrogation of captured terrorists." Ouch.

Again, this is a HUGE deal because is strikes at the heart of McCain's frontrunner rationale: he's a maverick who's made nice with the GOP establishment. Going into the process, McCain had two strikes against him -- campaign finance reform and immigration. Once an obscure second-tier issue, "torture" is likely the third.

What this shows is that McCain hasn't changed since 2000. He's still willing to inflict major damage on President Bush and the GOP to prove a point (at least with immigration, he was on the President's side). His stunt is almost as suicidal as his Virginia Beach speech. This will earn him major media brownie points and a "Profile in Courage" award but... cost him the prize he most craves, the White House.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Giuliani to Visit New Hampshire October 12th

New Hampshire Presidential Watch first reported it last night. Rudy will be headlining Victory New Hampshire's first "First in the Nation" forum on October 12th.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's Not Just 9/11

In the book store earlier today I was paging through Deroy Murdock's American Spectator cover story on Rudy (not online).

He opens with a story of a passenger who was on a flight with Rudy in May of 2005, when, at 38,000 feet, one of the cabin doors cracked open and the cabin started to depressurize. The pilot was forced to quickly descend to 9,000 feet. Understandably, there was a good deal of panic and concern on the plane.

What did Rudy do? He put on his oxygen mask... and resumed reading a Shakespeare book he was about to give his daughter.

Nerves of steel.

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SC & NH React to John McCain's Implosion

As pointed out by reader monkeydarts in the comments, SC GOP Chairman Katon Dawson had this to say about Senators McCain and Graham's outspoken support for giving terrorists the Club Med treatment:

Katon Dawson, the Republican Party chairman in South Carolina, a key 2008 primary state, said: "South Carolina is certainly Bush country. Overwhelmingly, the communications we're getting are supporting the president. Obviously, the president is right on this issue. I think John McCain thinks he's right - McCain and Warner and Graham. I think people on the ground think they're wrong."
This comes as the South Carolina Republicans debate closing their primary. (Is this why Weaver & Co. have moved on to trying to buy Alabama?)

Joseph McQuaid, editor of the legendary Manchester Union Leader isn't happy either:
Sen. McCain comes here because he wants to be our next President. But the question is being asked, in the midst of the most difficult and challenging war we have ever faced, can the nation afford a President McCain? ...

Sen. McCain is fighting the wrong war when he equates stateless Islamic jihadists with nations with whom we have fought in the past. You don't read Miranda rights to barbarians or worry about "what the world thinks'' when you are fighting an enemy that is out to destroy you. If McCain can't understand that, New Hampshire citizens must question why they should support him for President.
Poor John Weaver -- all that hard work kissing up to Bushies, now in ruins.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Rudy - Now More Than Ever: Promises Kept

For Gail Gorumba, 2001 was an extremely difficult year.

After losing both her husband and father earlier in the year, tragedy had struck again. Her 27 year-old son, a New York City fireman, had succumbed to a heart attack on the way to the scene of a fire. The loss had cast a dark cloud over the upcoming marriage of her daughter Diane, which was schedule to take place in two-weeks- on September 16th, 2001. There was no man left to walk her daughter down the aisle.

Gorumba asked New York Fire Commissioner Tom Van Essen if he would ask Mayor Giuliani if he would do the honors.

"I would be honored to do it" Rudy replied instantly.

After the events of September 11th, Gorumba wondered if Mayor Giuliani would still be able to attend, with so much going on and the eyes of the world upon him.

"Not only can I do it, I want to do it" Rudy assured her.

The wedding itself was held in an area of Brooklyn which had lost more than two dozen police and fireman in the WTC attacks. The assembled guests erupted in applause as Diane and Hizzoner made their way to the podium.

"...We are going to will ourselves to make this a joyous occasion" stated Rudy, "the family and the city needs it."

"That's a great thing the mayor did" stated one guest, "to give us something happy to come and see."

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Giuliani vs. McCain on How to Treat the Enemy

Rudy Giuliani:

"I told [President Bush], 'If you catch this guy Bin Laden, I would like to be the one to execute him' ... I am sure he thought I was just being rhetorical, but I was serious."
John McCain:
“I would make sure we don’t torture prisoners. I would close Guantanamo Bay.”
I have my disagreements with the Senator, but when it comes to national security, I thought he was better than that. After this week's public showdown with the White House and his desire to mollycoddle terror suspects, I no longer trust McCain to fight the War on Terror.

He is America's Lincoln Chafee, and the Republican establishment has a decision to make as to whether it will continue to tolerate his candidacy in light of his determination to undermine the President at this critical time and weaken the fight against terrorism.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Essential Reading...

Deroy Murdock's cover story in the September issue of The American Spectator that is.

In this extensive analysis, Murdock makes the case Rudy is not only a fiscal conservative, but in many ways a social conservative due to his views on education, welfare, adoption, fatherhood, crime, civility, and other related issues.

Do not miss this seminal Rudy 2008 article.

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Poll Watch - Strategic Vision New Jersey

Not suprisingly, Rudy leads big here.

New Jersey will play a much larger role in '08 than it did in '04 since the primary was moved from the middle of June to Feb. 26th.

Strategic Vision New Jersey, Sept. 8th-10th, 2006

Who would you support for the Republican nomination in 2008? (Republicans only)

Rudy Giuliani 46%
John McCain 24%
Mitt Romney 6%
Newt Gingrich 5%
George Pataki 1%
Bill Frist 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
George Allen 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Undecided 14%

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rudy - Now More Than Ever: The 9/11 Story

For the Mayor of New York City, it was a day that began like many others. Rudy Giuliani was catching up with an old friend, Bill Simon, over breakfast at the Peninsula Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Shortly after quarter of nine, they were wrapping things up in the lobby of the hotel, when a police detective on the detail gestured to Denny Young, the Mayor's aide.

A plane had hit the Towers.

Mayor Giuliani instinctively knew something was wrong. He turned -- and it was explained to him. He later recalled his first thought: "A plane just doesn't hit the World Trade Center by accident."

His first instinct wasn't to hunker down. It was to rush to the scene. As Giuliani explained in his memoir, Leadership: "While mayor, I made it my policy to see with my own eyes the scene of every crisis so I could evaluate it firsthand." 

At the scene, a decision was taken to establish a police command center at 75 Barclay Street and fire command center on Wall Street. He conferred with the civilian and uniformed leadership of the NYPD and FDNY. He ran into Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the FDNY, and exhorted him, "Pray for us, Father."

"I always do," replied Father Mychal. "I always pray for you."

It was when the Mayor saw with his own eyes the first person voluntarily jumping 102 floors to their death that he recognized that this was a threat unlike any we had ever faced -- that we were at war.

Once a command post had been established across the street, two priorities became clear to the Mayor: One, ensure an effective rescue operation to save the thousands still in the Towers, and two, ensure an orderly evacuation and convey a message of calm to all New Yorkers.

As he tried to establish contact with the White House, Rudy's team was also busy setting up a makeshift press conference near the scene, one that would obviously be overtaken by events. The goal: to show that the City's leadership was alive and in control, and to guide any still in the area to safety.

It was when Mayor Giuliani was trying to establish a phone connection with Vice President Cheney that a giant roar -- followed by an enveloping in black smoke -- overtook 75 Barclay Street. Everyone else in the room hit the deck. The Mayor stayed standing, but it was clear with the collapse of the first Tower that this location too was longer safe. See the Mayor describe this episode (forgive the still):

As he headed uptown -- following the same advice given him by the Fire Department -- he grabbed the arm of NY1 reporter Andrew Kirtzman, no friend to the Administration -- and said to other reporters, "Come with us. We'll walk as we talk." That was the importance of the Mayor placed on communicating clearly and often with the crisis-stricken people of the city.

Rudy made his way north -- and urged all in the disaster area to do the same. On the way his party encountered a man on crutches, who needed their help. The Mayor went up to him and said, "We'll put you in one of the cars." With police commissioner Bernie Kerik, he helped the man into the car and to safety.

Rudy and his aides sought a place from which to re-establish city government, eventually settling on the Police Academy on 20th Street. From there, the Mayor and the Governor would give this press conference, urging calm, describing the scene, and giving full support to the President in doing what he needed to do to respond to these hideous monsters:

Mayor Giuliani would rush to Ground Zero, not once, not twice, but six times that day. He recalled, "There's never been a time I've gone there without feeling that rage. That first time back, I just let it wash over me." Five years later, Rudy would again tell a TV interviewer that he couldn't go back to Ground Zero without feeling profound anger at what happened there.

Rudy made another decision that day: that the City would do whatever it took to rescue its fallen brothers in the rubble -- working all night, 24 hours a day -- and tasking his staff to find heavy equipment and lights to help with the rescue.

Eighteen hours after the first plane hit, Rudy returned to the apartment of his friend Howard Koeppel, where he had been staying for a few months. In what has become one of the most remembered parts of this story, the Mayor turned to a book he had been reading Roy Jenkins' Churchill, and opened to the pages describing his ascension to power in 1940 after the feckless Neville Chamberlain. He remembered thinking that Americans would rise to the challenge, and he awoke to await a sunrise he wasn't sure would come.

It did come.

This was Rudy Giuliani's moment -- and America's -- to rise to the occasion, to recover, and to fight back.

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VIDEO: Matthews & Co. on Rudy's 9/11 Heroism & Presidential Prospects

Tune in for this mostly enlightening discussion of Rudy Giuliani on the Chris Matthews Show, including charges by 9/11 conspiracy-monger Wayne Barrett and why Rudy leads the polls despite not being in the news much:

Note: Keep trashing Rudy, Tucker! He will only go up in the esteem of the conservative base. Next we'll get "conservative" Andrew Sullivan to dis-endorse!

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Rudy - Now More Than Ever: Some Things Are Not For Sale

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 were the greatest crisis that New York City had ever faced. In addition to the catastrophic human toll, NYC was faced with the monumental task of cleanup and rebuilding of the WTC site itself. New York needed all the help it could get. A $10 million dollar donation could certainly ease some of the burden of this effort.

Despite the great need, Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided that somethings are not for sale. Hizzoner decided that the courage, honor, and dignity that New Yorkers displayed in the face of this great evil topped that list.

The donation itself had come with a price: tacit acceptance of the validity of the Saudi Prince's statements when the donation was made:

"[the U.S.] should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause."

"While the U.N. passed clear resolutions numbered 242 and 338 calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip decades ago, our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek,"

Rudy decided the price was too high:

"I entirely reject that statement," said Hizzoner. "There is no moral equivalent for this [terrorist] act. There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people."

" of the reasons I think this happened is because people were engaged in moral equivalency in not understanding the difference between liberal democracies like the United States, like Israel, and terrorist states and those who condone terrorism."

The easy call would have been to take the check. NYC needed the money. The Saudi's are one of the most important strategic allies the U.S. would count on in the upcoming conflict. Offending them could come at great cost.

Sometimes principled leadership requires making difficult and unpopular decisions; like some things cannot be bought at any price.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Who's Behind Whitman?

Surrounding the emotion of the 9/11 anniversary was the back-and-forth over between ex-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and the Mayor and his team about the air quality at Ground Zero. The opening salvo came in a well-timed 60 Minutes package on the eve of 9/11:

The former head of the Environmental Protection Agency claimed in an interview released yesterday that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's aides ignored her warnings that workers at Ground Zero should wear respirators after the 9/11 attacks to protect their health.

"We always said consistently, 'You've got to wear protective gear,'" Whitman tells Katie Couric in the CBS anchor's first "60 Minutes" interview, to be aired Sunday.

"We didn't have the authority to do that enforcement, but we communicated [the need to wear respirators] to the people who did," said Whitman, adding that the danger to workers on The Pile at Ground Zero was made clear to City Hall in "no uncertain terms."

During ABC's coverage of 9/11, Mayor Giuliani responded (video here):

"It doesn't make any sense to point fingers," Giuliani said. ...

"Given the fact they were all injured as a result of their work here, they all should be taken care of, and the city government should be part of it, and the state government should be part of it, and the federal government should be part of it," Giuliani said to "Good Morning America."

First, who comes off as the paper-pushing bureaucrat here ("we didn't have the authority to do that enforcement") and who comes off as the compassionate leader doing what needs to be done ("they should all be taken care of")?

But moreover: political attacks like this don't just materialize out of thin air. With the anniversary of the attacks looming and a potential Giuliani candidacy months away, isn't it convenient that Whitman comes out of the woodwork to trash Rudy?

Whitman has tried to position herself as something of a power broker in the moderate wing of the Republican Party, releasing a book trashing the President shortly after his re-election and establishing a PAC. If memory serves, John McCain once served on the advisory board of It's My Party Too PAC, but he wisely removed himself. A couple of his big money people are still on it (Lew Eisenberg and James Nicholson). The list otherwise reads like a who's who of the RINO establishment, with a few surprises, like Bob Dole and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.

When Whitman recently traveled to New Hampshire, it was whispered that she might be considering a dark-horse Presidential bid of her own, but more than likely she's a stalking horse for another campaign (McCain? Pataki?) wishing to undermine America's Mayor.

* * *

Today, Mayor Giuliani made the rather dramatic announcement that he, his wife, and a number of aides too might eventually be affected by 9/11 respiratory disorders because of countless days they spent around the smoldering rubble of Ground Zero.

I don't think there's anything a desk jockey like Whitman can say to that.

Rudy was down on The Pile with his men. He put his health at the same risk like they did -- and the rescue workers were doing what had to be done, helping save lives. This is the mark of a true leader.

Those trying to make this an issue out of this forget that we are at war and the homeland is a front in that war. Our troops don't have the benefit of OSHA and EPA protections before going out on patrol in Baghdad. The workers bravely leading the rescue did what had to be done, despite the obvious danger, and despite having to endure conditions never before seen in any American city.

For that they should be treated as heroes, not unwitting victims.  

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Rudy - Now More Than Ever: Remembering the Fallen

Editor's Note: Today marks the first in a series of daily posts on Rudy's 9/11 leadership, called "Rudy - Now More Than Ever." We all remember that Rudy was a hero on 9/11 and beyond, but five years on, memories can fade. This series will tell the story of that leadership, and why our country needs that kind of leadership now more than ever. -RB

Terry Hatton was a hero. A 21 year veteran of the FDNY, Captain Hatton lead the elite Rescue 1 team. Over his 21 years of service Capt. Hatton had received 19 medals for his service.

Capt. Hatton was married to Beth Petrone, Mayor Giuliani's executive assistant for eighteen years. Hizzoner described them as "inseparable". In his book Leadership, Rudy remembers their relationship:

"Beth and Terry fell in love from the first moment they laid eyes on each other. After they were married (Rudy had performed the ceremony at Gracie Mansion himself), Terry would send Beth flowers, and sometimes he'd pick her up after work, hanging out on the sofa outside my office until she was ready to leave."

During the mayhem of 9/11, Mayor Giuliani realized the danger his friend and husband of his longtime assistant was in.

"Was Terry working?" Hizzoner asked Petrone.

"I could see tears in her eyes. I hugged her, and noticed that for the first time I also had a tear in my eye. Beth said to me very quietly, 'He's gone.' I said, 'You don't know that yet. We will do everything to find him.' "

Captain Terry Hatton lost his life fighting to save others as the Towers collapsed, along with 342 of his fellow firefighters and paramedics.

"Some of his tools and keys were found by the remaining members of Rescue 1, a small solace for a heartbroken squad. I brought those things to Beth at Terry's wake, along with Part of his uniform. I remained at the wake a long time, taking in the articles and photos on posters devoted to this good man. I noticed a photo of Terry rescuing a child from a fire. He kept that photo in his locker a reminder of the best part of his job, of why he risked everything to help people he didn't know."

"His funeral was two days later, on October 4th at St. Patrick's Cathedral (Mayor Giuliani would attend every service for every firefighter and police officer killed in the 9/11 attacks). To see that beautiful church, packed with people who loved Terry and Beth-and with many simply there to show their respect-that's why I know how important it is to show up at funerals."

It is hardly ever mentioned that Hizzoner lost several close friends that day. Of course, he was not alone in this. First Responders, Firemen, and Police continued to do their jobs despite not knowing the fate of many of their friends and family members. It is a testament to all New Yorkers that they showed the world how evil can be matched by duty, goodness, and honor.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

VIDEO: Rudy on Terrorism

Watch Rudy's "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News tonight.

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Rudy's 9/11 Op-Ed

Rudy's 9/11 USA Today op-ed, reprinted in full by Solutions America, is a clear-eyed reminder of what is really at stake in this War: our civilization itself. In the piece, America's Mayor lays out what we need to do to defeat Islamic extremists. He concludes:

There is a reason thousands of rescue personnel rushed into enormous danger to save men and women who were strangers to them. The reason was respect for the value of human life. It can also be described as love — the kind of love expressed in a biblical phrase, "Man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friend." This respect for human life and love for others, including strangers, form the core of Western civilization. It is the driving force that helped us create freedom.

What I learned from Sept. 11, 2001, is that free people have much greater strength than they realize. Ultimately, free people prevail over oppression.
Read the whole thing.

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Remembering Diane Barry

Diane Barry's life was grounded upon a bedrock foundation of faith, family, and service. An administrative assistant at Aon Corp. on the 93rd floor of Tower Two, Diane Barry had arrived an hour early for work that day. She had a heart of gold and a wonderful sense of humor, and is survived by her husband Ed and her children Brian, Kevin, and Maureen. She was 60 years old.

A devout Catholic born and raised in Pompton Lakes, N.J., Diane Yacco met her husband Ed in the summer of '63 on the Jersey Shore. They were married the next year, and would make their life in Staten Island, New York.

Diane always thought of others, and for 27 consecutive years taught Sunday School at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church on Staten Island. She was later selected to organize wedding rehearsals for parishioners. Throughout the years, Diane was a rock in her community and for her family. Her husband would describe her this way, "There was just something about her personality. No matter what difficulties she had to face, she never seemed to get flustered or move away from that center. It was her soul." At work too, she always stayed on top of things. "She was always prepared," recalled Ed Barry. "She always liked to start the day before the rest of the office did."

When that terrible moment came, we can know that Diane was at peace with her Lord and had no fear in its eternal definition. Months before, Barry rung in her 60th birthday -- where else? -- at Windows on the World at the World Trade Center. She was asked how she could stay so calm working so high above the ground. Her answer, "I'm always ready to meet my Lord." There was that centeredness, that calm sense of purpose, that was just a part of who Diane Barry was.

You can learn more about Diane at this profile (and also here), and read messages from her family and friends at this memorial guestbook.

We will never forget 9/11/01, or Diane Barry, or the 2,995 other brave souls we lost that day.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bush, Giuliani Mark 9/11 Anniversary


The President and Mrs. Bush paid their respects at Ground Zero tonight, laying a wreath at the site. They were joined by Mayor Giuliani and New York's elected leaders, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki:

President George W. Bush made a pilgrimage to New York's Ground Zero on Sunday on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a milestone that has sharpened an election-year debate over whether America is safer.

Under gray skies, Bush and his wife Laura, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and state Gov. George Pataki walked together into the flag-bedecked site where the twin World Trade Center towers had stood.

The somber-looking Bushes laid wreaths into two dark pools of water in the footprints of the north and south towers, which collapsed in 2001 after two hijacked airplanes smashed into them, and bowed their heads in silence. Bagpipes played "America the Beautiful."

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Rudy - Now More Than Ever

On Monday, we pause to remember the dastardly attack on our Nation – and how we emerged from it stronger and determined to wipe the evil of Islamofascism from this Earth. On that day heroes rose – in our hearts, and for too many, into the Heavens. 2,996 would lose their lives – including 343 New York City firefighters and 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority Police officers.

On September 11th, we will pause to remember the fifth anniversary of these attacks, and renew our resolve to finish what we started. This blog is proud to participate in the 2,996 memorial, and will be honoring the memory of Diane G. Barry, who died at the World Trade Center.

September 11th and the days that followed were also a time when a leader rose – Rudolph W. Giuliani. It is axiomatic to say that Rudy was a hero for everything he did during that difficult time, but five years on, those memories too will inevitably fade. It is our job to make sure that the story of 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani's leadership is not forgotten. After a day of pause and reflection on 9/11, on September 12th we will be starting five days of posts in a series we're calling "Rudy – Now More Than Ever" – a narrative of what Rudy Giuliani's leadership that September meant for the nation and why in these difficult days of decision in the War on Terror, we need Rudy Giuliani now more than ever.

We hope you can join us for this special coverage.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rudy Tops in Favourability Once Again

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll:

Many American adults hold a favourable opinion of Rudy Giuliani, according to a poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Respondents gave the former New York City mayor a mean rating of 64.1, the highest among 20 politicians surveyed.

Giuliani garnered national and international attention in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and has formed a political action committee called Solutions America. The former mayor has been mentioned as a possible Republican nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election.

Finishing far behind Rudy were: John McCain 57.5, Condoleezza Rice 56.8, and Barack Obama 54.9.

No other politician garnered over 50% net favourablity.

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Rebutting David Frum

Rudy caught some heat from David Frum in a blog post on Rudy vs. Romney and what it would mean for the GOP to nominate a candidate who has been pro-choice:

I'd be delighted to see either man win the Republican nomination; I'd sleep well at night having either in the White House. But how in the coming primary season to decide for one over the other? To my mind, it comes down to this: The Republican party is a pro-life party. That's just an empirical fact about the party. Giuliani is not merely not pro-life (I think he (but nobody else!) could get away with that, if he had chosen to address), but adamantly unwilling to reach any compromises with those who are. ...

At this point, with not a single concession to the prolife camp, a Giuliani nomination would split the Republican party in very damaging ways. It would very possible trigger an independent candidacy by a prolife Perot. 2008 will be a tough enough year without that ...

Unwilling to reach any compromises with those who are?

Is this why, in an answer to a question posed by our very own Kavon Nikrad, Rudy voiced strong support for originalists on the Bench, stating, "I don't understand how you cannot be for strict constructionist judges?"

In a WSJ op-ed two years ago, Frum himself suggested judges as an issue Rudy could use to reconcile with conservatives. Well, the record shows that he has, or at least is heading very decidedly in that direction.

I don't think there's any doubt that there is a tacit understanding amongst Rudy and his team that checking his past views at the door is the price of admission to the Republican nomination and the presidency. This doesn't mean changing his position and undermining his straight-shooting authenticity (and unlike Romney or George Allen, he doesn't need to flip-flop to survive), but simply agreeing not to stand in the way of a pro-life agenda.

There is a very relevant template for this on the other side. Democrats have gladly accepted leaders like Harry Reid and Bobby Casey, Jr. who are nominally pro-life, but advance a pro-choice agenda within the Democratic Party. Reid led the charge against both Roberts and Alito, while Casey comes out for "Plan B" and advertises that he'd be part of a Democratic majority that would uphold abortion rights.

Today's Washington Post also highlights non-governmental solutions to the problem -- including pro-life centers that are dissuading women from abortion simply by showing them ultrasounds. Rudy's past positions shouldn't stop him from releasing a policy paper calling for more funding for ultrasound machines for such centers, as a practical step to reducing the number of abortions now?

Frum is a smart analyst, but anyone who believes that Rudy would run or would govern as a pro-choice activist needs to be paying closer attention.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Revisionist History

It should come as no surprise that The Left would begin the deconstruction of 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani eventually. The only real surprise is that the we really had to wait until Summer 2006 for it to begin in earnest.

After all, how can you display your intellectual sophistication by accepting what you saw plainly with you own eyes: terrorists captured boarding on security video, planes crashing into buildings, burning towers collapsing.

It was cultural expression... It was self-defense against The West's imperialist designs... It was for the oppressed peoples of Palestine... It was an extension of a thousand-year conflict. Call it anything except what it was: an act of profound evil.

Americans saw something else that day as well: a mayor of a city walking among the debris, directing the response, comforting a nation. Americans saw what leadership was that day.

Wayne Barrett, in his new book "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11", wants to let you know what you really saw. Like the old Soviet-era photographs where the crowd in the picture become progressively smaller as history is revised, Barrett asks his readers to forget what they saw with their own two-eyes and replace it with the new picture he conveniently provides.

It wouldn't be so bad if Barrett hadn't relied on the smallest minutiae to base his criticisms, or presumed Rudy to be able to literally see into the future, or have expected the Mayor of New York City to have knowledge of evolving terror strategies that rivaled those in segments of the U.S. Defense and Intelligence community. When examined on their own merits, Barrett's problems with the way Rudy handled 9/11 are revealed for what they are: the nit-picked ramblings of someone with a personal grudge.

Let's take a look at Barrett's first 9/11 meme-
"I was really surprised at how the 1993 World Trade Center bombing had absolutely no effect on his consciousness. Six people died, but so many more could have and we show in four or five different ways how a much bigger catastrophe was only narrowly averted. Then in June of ’93 the FBI and the NYPD busted terrorists in Queens who were a week away from blowing up the Holland Tunnel, the United Nations, a whole series of targets. So 1993 was the peak year of terrorism in this country and in this city prior to 9/11, yet it did not register in any way in the Giuliani mind."-Interview with Williams Cole (producer of the film "Giuliani Time") published in The Brooklyn Rail, Sept 2006 edition.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Rudy Giuliani was one of the few elected officials in the United States who was thinking about the subject. In fact, you could argue that Rudy was more concerned about terrorism than the President of the United States, Bill Clinton (who when not avoiding contact with his CIA Director for numerous years of his administration was firing missles into emtpy tents in Central Asia & innocuous asprin factories in Africa).

The man charged with handling New York City's emergency preparedness and response was Jerry Hauer. Hauer served as director of the city's office of Emergency Management (which according to author Fred Siegel was even humorously known as "The Office of What If?")

"Everyone thought we were crazy for preparing for terrorism" Hauer said referring to the preparations.

According to Siegel, "Based on intelligence that emerged from the Blind Shiek's thwarted attack on Gotham's bridges and tunnels and newly developed information, it looked as if either the bombing of the bridges and tunnels and a biological attack were the most likely threats."

Now where would NYC's Office of Emergency Management obtain these threat assessments? That would the federal goverment. Unless you believe that Rudy was negligent in not developing an FBI/CIA style counter-terrorism force (hardly the perogative of the mayor of any city, even NYC), Giuliani cannot be held responsible for concentrating on what the FBI told him to. They had advised him that the WTC had been hit once before and was left standing (despite a 100 ft. hole in the foundation); the terrorists were moving on- focus on the tunnels and bridges.

Security was improved at the WTC site after the 1993 bombing. But the fact remained that the building had now withstood severe damage from a bomb. Precautions were increased. Security tightened. The terrorists could hardly be expected to try again with a bigger bomb in the basement. No one who advised Mayor Giuliani could have foresaw the possiblity of hijacked commercial jetliners, loaded with fuel, intentionally crashing into the buildings (the WTC towers were designed to withstand an accidental aircraft collision). Those who job it was to envision such circumstances (the FBI, CIA , or other counter terrorism agencies under the direction of the Clinton Administration) failed to do so.

So what was Hauer's department doing in preparation?

Again from Fred Siegel, "Hauer and his staff engaged in 'game playing'. They tried to put themselves inside the mind of a terrorist planning an attack to anticipate how the city should respond. Hauser had brought in Richard Clarke, then head of President Clinton's head of counter-intelligence, to lead an intense brainstorming session attended by the forty top members of the Giuliani Administration."

Describing one of their terrorist training events (this one just before 2000), Siegel writes, " Hauer organized numerous drills and tabletop scenarios, which Giuliani usually attended and in which the first responders, hospitals, and even non-emergency services could play through a variety of scenarios. One of the first drills was a mock attack on a rally being held at the base of the World Trade Center with a thousand injured." Said Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota, "You drilled and prepared over and over so that when trouble comes you don't have consult a manual or think things through again. You can react instinctively."

In Rudy's words, "After September 11th, I was frequently asked about staying calm in the face of crisis. As I have already discussed, it comes down to preparation. Throughout my time as mayor, we conducted tabletop exercises designed to rehearse our response to a wide variety of contingencies. We'd blueprint what each person in each agency would do if the city faced, say, a chemical attack or a biomedical attack. We went through how we'd act in the event of a plane crash or a terrorist attack on a political gathering. We didn't just choreograph our response on paper, either, but did trial runs in the streets, to test how long the plans took in practice. We even simulated an airplane crash in Queens and a sarin gas attack in Manhattan... We used to take pictures of these trial runs, and they were so realistic that people who saw them would ask when the event shown in the photograph had occurred. We did not anticipate that airliners would be commandeered and turned into guided missiles; but the fact that we practiced for other kinds of disasters made us far more prepared to handle a catastrophe that nobody envisioned."

In Wayne Barrett's world, Rudy Giuliani as the Mayor of New York should have been able to envision this scenario, even though the federal authorities that are responsible for envisioning such scenarios (such as the CIA or FBI) could not.

Which brings us to Barrett's second meme-
"...he’s the expert on terrorism because he faced it down that morning. He should have been operating less inspirationally and more effectively in a command center located at a responsible location, rather than at a most vulnerable location. And he should have been with his top chiefs, the fire department, police department, emergency management; he should have been making solid judgments about how to respond to this. Instead, he was walking the streets of lower Manhattan."

Giuliani described his decision this way, "As shocking as the crash was (referring to the first plane hitting the WTC), we had actually planned for such a catastrophe. My administration had built a state-of-the-art command center, from which we handled the emergencies that inevitably befall a city like New York... It was packed with computers and television screens to monitor conditions all over the city and beyond. It had generators in case the power failed, sleeping accommodations in case we had to stay overnight, storage tanks filled with water and fuel, and stockpiles of various antidotes."

Barrett's criticism of Giuliani's choice of locating the command center in Tower 7, is just another example of how he strains credulity to insist that Rudy should have known better. Giuliani chose Tower 7 precisely because it was the best choice based on the assessments provided to him. Besides tunnels and bridges, federal authorities advised the mayor that if a building were to be hit, it would most likely be in located near the financial district (like the New York Stock Exchange). Tower 7 would provide the perfect location in such an event.

Once again Barrett apparently blames Rudy for not being able to see into the future. Namely, that the one of the very few scenarios that could have destroyed Tower 7 (a scenario that Rudy had not been warned of by any federal agency like the CIA or FBI), jet planes loaded with fuel used as missiles, would come to pass.

Of course there was some initial confusion. We have the seen what it was like on the ground that day near the WTC complex. But the idea that Giuliani "walking the streets of lower Manhattan." incommunicado with his fire and police chiefs is contradicted by the facts. According to Rudy, "I immediately devised two priorities. We had to set up a new command center. And we had to find a way to communicate with people in the city. Bernie (Kerik-Police Commissioner) and his staff had already identified a building at 75 Barclay St., just northeast of 7 World Trade Center, as a possible site. I saw that news trucks were already arriving, and told Sunny Mindel, my Communications Director, to start organizing the press so we could brief them outside. As Bernie and I walked, he told me that they'd set up the fire command post between the Merrill Lynch and American Express building on West St."

Let me address Barrett's most feeble meme last-
"I think we have major, shocking revelations about the relationship between the Giuliani Administration and Motorola. There is such travesty in the fact that firefighters wound up with the same radios in their hands that malfunctioned at the ’93 bombing. We have one chapter devoted exclusively to tracking the narrative of why it was that no change occurred on the radio front, and that there are all kinds of relationships. A pivotal person at the city’s information agency had a sister who worked for Motorola in a high capacity, and this was the woman who steered the city, in large measure, toward the new radios that were purchased. But even so, the city waited until March of 2001 to actually put new radios in fire fighters hands, and then those radios malfunctioned within a week. The Giuliani Administration could have easily reconfigured those radios, the new radios, and put them back in fire houses in the intervening months between then and 9/11."

What liberal critique would be complete without somehow involving evil "Big Business". Dastardly Motorola strikes again!

No one can deny that any executive must delegate the execution of many details to subordinates. Rudy had a team of deputy mayors, as well as fire and police comissioners and their subordiates to assist him. Barrett at no time says that Rudy did anything unethical personally involving the purchase of the radios from Motorola. Barrett mentions explicitly the person rsponsible, an unnamed "pivotal person at the city’s information agency had a sister who worked for Motorola in a high capacity, and this was the woman who steered the city, in large measure, toward the new radios that were purchased." But yet the blame falls to Mayor Giuliani who should have stopped juggling the responsibilities of managing the most dynamic city in the world to personally get down to the warehouse to inspect the new radios.

Bernie Kerik addressed this issue in his testimony to the 9/11 commission stating, "Show me one radio that they will guarantee you this radio will go through that metal, it will go through the debris, it will go through the dust, and you will have 100% communication 100% of the time-there is none."

According to Siegel, if the 9/11 commission was concerned about anything, it was how inter-department rivalry inpeded communications, not radios. However, expert witnesses were unable to give examples of any specific instances. The 9/11 Commission's report concluded that "Understandably lacking experience in responding to events of the magnitude of the World Trade Center attacks, the FDNY as an institution proved incapable of coordinating the numbers of unit dispatched to different points with the 16 acre complex. It is clear that the lack of coordination (within the FDNY and between the NYPD and FDNY) did not affect adversely the evacuation of civilians (though Siegel notes that it did probably cost the lives of an unknown number of firefighters.)

The 9/11 Commission Report, which Barrett relied heavily upon for his research, concluded that 99.5% of people that could have been saved on that day were saved.

In the final analysis, Barrett's work amounts to little more than one of the most sadly embarrassing examples of "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" in recent memory. Especially considering that it took nearly 5 years for Barrett to even come up with even these flimsy accusations.

When a once in a lifetime catastrophe such a 9/11 occurs. I will take the decisions made (for better or worse) by a man like Rudy Giuliani, whose turnaround of NYC is one of the greatest American success stories in our nation's history, over the second-guessings of a man like Wayne Barrett; whose most thought inducing decision of the day must be which flavor of $6 a cup coffee he will drink in the morning.

*Wayne Barrett's quotes are from an interview with Williams Cole (producer of the film "Giuliani Time") published in The Brooklyn Rail, Sept 2006 edition.

**Quotes for this article were taken from Fred Siegel's "The Prince of the City" and Rudy Giuliani's "Leadership".

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America's Frontrunner: Rudy by 11 in CNN Poll

Every shred of empirical evidence about '08 continues to point in the direction of America's Mayor. From a CNN poll (PDF):

All Republicans (Registered Republicans)
Giuliani 31% (32%)
McCain 20% (21%)
Gingrich 12% (12%)
Allen 7% (7%)
Frist 5% (4%)
Romney 5% (6%)
Pataki 4% (3%)
Brownback 1% (1%)
No opinion 14% (13%)

How low does the gentleman from Arizona need to go before the media stops taking him seriously as a Presidential candidate? 20%? 15%? Asterisk oblivion?

And when will they figure out that organization is a trailing not leading indicator in Presidential politics?

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Hugh Hewitt Interviews Mayor Giuliani

Here's the full transcript. And here's the audio of the interview, which includes some back and forth with Path to 9/11 producer Cyrus Nowrasteh.

The closing question:

HH: And have you ruled out running for president, Mayor Giuliani?

RG: Oh, no, no, no, no. I'm traveling the country, as I had four or five meetings today, talking to people and getting their advice. I want to put the focus right now on winning the House and Senate in 2006. But it's something that I very much have on my mind.

HH: Well, I look forward to having you back to talk about that, and is Rudy's PAC. And thanks very much, Mayor.

Wow. It's obvious that Hewitt is a Romney supporter, largely because the Mayor has been so coy about running, and this question speaks to that. But it sounds like we may get him back yet.

And... "four or five meetings." Sounds like Rudy is doing some behind-the-scenes legwork we were led to believe was not happening.

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Rudy's Success is Straight Out of Bush's Playbook

Over the long weekend, I went and picked up a copy of Applebee's America, interested in gaining some insight from Matthew Dowd, the President's chief poll-meister in the last election. This quote on page 14 of the book really jumped out at me:

Both presidents [Clinton and Bush] understood that the so-called values debate runs deeper than abortion, gay rights, and other social issues that are too often the focus of the political elite in Washington. Voters don't pick Presidents based on a laundy list of policies. If they did, President Bush wouldn't have stood a chance against Al Gore in 2000 or John Kerry in 2004. Rather, policies and issues are mere prisms through which voters take the true measure of a candidate: Does he share my values?

How does this relate to the fight we're currently gearing up for? Just consider this.

Rudy supporters argue that issues aren't as important as leadership. Socially conservative voters know about Rudy's numerous disagreements with them over the years, but have chosen to ignore them because he's a strong leader who shares their values, broadly defined. He has established an enduring bond with Republicans that transcends his positions on the issues, what the authors call a "Gut Values Connection."

McCainiacs believe that once people take a closer look at Rudy's point-by-point stands on the issues, they will rally to McCain. Conservatives may not like McCain personally, but the usual litmus test issues will disqualify Giuliani and conservatives will learn to swallow McCain because he nominally agrees with them on one or two important issues.

Based on everything we've been learned about how the last election was won -- from the highest levels of the Bush campaign -- which seems more plausible? Which seems more realistic? Which seems like the smarter strategy?

I fear that otherwise smart people who are swooning over McCain are unlearning every lesson about how Bush won, how Clinton won, and how Reagan won, and this portends grave and hidden dangers should he get into a general election situation. The voters in those elections didn't dutifully mark off the League of Women Voters checklist... Life--check. Guns--check. Gays--check. They went on gut instincts. Even Bush's bond with the Christian Right in the 2000 primary was forged by the story of his acceptance of Jesus Christ in mid-life, not his pro-life views.

We already have indications that Rudy knows how to speak the language of religious America -- and that the gut level connection he forged with conservatives five years ago only strengthens the more people see of him.

It should be said that McCain has forged gut-level connections too -- but with Democrats and independents, not Republicans. (If there were such a thing as a negative Gut Values Connection, that's where McCain would be with conservatives.) Conservatives aren't being asked to accept him as who he is. They are being asked to accept him as the Machine Candidate. And that will be his downfall, because it's a strategy that's inherently disconnected from what voters actually believe.  

Giuliani '08 isn't some quixotic, haphazard, late-to-the-game effort. It would be based on the soundest, most fundamental strategic insight from campaigns from Reagan to Clinton to George W. Bush. McCain's folks can run around fretting about tactics all they want. All it means is that the stage will be very crowded for his concession speech.

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