Did Giuliani Really Push Back His '08 Timeline?
The MSM has settled on this notion that Rudy has pushed back his '08 decision timeline as the big news coming out of his New Hampshire visit:
As someone who follows these things pretty closely, and pays attention whenever he utters anything about an '08 decision, here's what I think this means.
"If I make a decision, I'll make that decision some time next year. I imagine it'll be some time in the first half of the year, [but] I'm not even sure of that," Giuliani told reporters after headlining a luncheon for Republican state lawmakers for 2006.
In the past, Giuliani has said he'd decide early next year.
Earlier in the year, Rudy was saying he'd make a decision in 12 months, and this was April or May. When Rudy revised this to say, six-to-nine months, "after" the midterm elections, and "early" '07, this probably became the new baseline.
Rudy is being pretty imprecise here, but the first half of the year could still mean anytime from January to June. So he may not have revised anything -- he did only if you take seriously the notion that he'll wait till later in the year.
However, all of this is not inconsistent with the idea of an "early start." As campaign watchers well know, candidates form "exploratory committee" and only "announce" when they think the timing is right. In '99, George W. Bush formed an exploratory committee in March -- with staff and all, about a month or two behind the other candidates -- and only said "I'm running" in June. As many of the other candidates are proving, you don't have to announce to have an infrastructure.
While I don't think Rudy's ability to freeze the field is the same as Bush's, I do think there is some benefit to biding his time to announce his candidacy to maximum fanfare. I'd analogize this to the McCain-Romney squabbling now. McCain announced several high-profile "gets" on the national stage very early, leaving the impression that he'd leave everyone behind in the dust. Well, lo and behold, Romney grabs some very significant operatives and probably is well on his way to matching McCain in "establishment" support, and McCain looks like he peaked too soon. Fast forward a few months and the same could be said of Rudy.
Giuliani may well be playing the tortoise here.