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.