Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How Rudy Could Pull It Off

Is it just me, or is the conventional wisdom beginning to move back in our direction?

And is McCain-Romney just Republican for Dean-Gephardt?

Flash back to a couple of weeks ago, when McCain and Romney exchanged hot words over the detainee issue. The vicious back-and-forth has been going on at the staff level for months, and in fact some crude hits by Pat Hynes on Romney from a few months ago were a surefire sign he was doing McCain's bidding. Two weeks ago was the first time this hostility sprung out in the open. Lately, Romney's high-profile recruitment of Chris Rants in Iowa, Tom Rath in New Hampshire, and some notable figures yet to be named in South Carolina suggests that he is effectively going tit-for-tat with McCain in establishment support, and McCain isn't quite the frontrunner people thought he was.

With Romney positioning himself as the anti-McCain, and needling the Straight Talk Express in the endorsement battles, Team Romney is provoking Team McCain into all-out war.

If the simmering hostility between the Romney and McCain camps are this bad now, wait until early 2008, when voters will be sick of it. And as in every primary, an unconventional candidate will rise while a conventional candidate falls. Both McCain and Romney are positioning themselves as conventional candidates, and they're getting into a distracting two-way skirmish in a multi-candidate field, always a dangerous thing.  

Enter Rudy.

I can picture the ads now: "Romney attacks McCain. McCain attacks Romney. And then there's Rudy." There may be a method to the madness to staying above the fray after all.

R4'08er Republius put it very well the other day:

Such a populist strategy, in conjunction with entering the fray later than McCain and Romney, may also set up the two best organized GOP candidates to attack each other, as we saw glimpses of in the recent detainee legislation debate, in a way that significantly injures both and paves the way for others to come to the forefront from the rear. This would be a perfect set up for Giuliani and Gingrich, much as how in 2004 Congressman Gephardt and Governor Dean destroyed each other in Iowa and allowed John Kerry to thus win those caucuses from behind and establish unbeatable momentum after following that up with a win in his backyard at the New Hampshire primary.

And McCainiac Liz Mair, from the moderate blog GOPProgress also sees a ray of light for Rudy in the McCain-Romney battle:

I'm not so sure about that.  Assuming Giuliani does indeed get into the race, my thinking is this: Iowa could well go to him, New Hampshire will probably go to McCain, Alabama will be a toss-up between McCain, Romney and perhaps even a Huckabee or Brownback-style candidate, while South Carolina I do not see going for McCain, and it could well go to Romney (I await a torrent of criticism and reminders of recent McCain hires in the state-- however, I would remind readers just how hated McCain was in SC after 2000, and that elephants never forget).  Michigan will be a bloody fight between McCain and Romney, and my instinct is that it will be close, but could well go to Romney-- or Giuliani, if McCain and Romney spend the next year beating each other up there, with the effect that everyone is sick of them, and votes for the guy who stayed out of the fighting and actually talked about what he was prepared to lead on.

If all that happens, states like Washington start to matter.  If Giuliani did manage to sneak in a crafty victory in another one or two states (e.g., Michigan), by virtue of McCain and Romney hacking each other to bits, a Giuliani victory in somewhere like Washington could be very key to sealing the deal for him.

I used to think it was important for Rudy to snatch the establishment mantle from McCain relatively early on. Now I'm not so sure. With McCain and Romney effectively splitting the establishment in half, there may be no establishment mantle to be had, and Rudy's people power becomes more formidable.

I'll be reminded of the fact that the GOP normally nominates establishment candidates. But here's the difference. Rudy isn't a scrappy challenger starting at 2%. He starts at 30% of the vote. He's starting to hold down double digit leads in big states. The longer this goes on, the clearer it becomes that McCain-Romney is being fought out in an alternate universe, while in the real world Giuliani is far and away the Republican frontrunner. Nominating Rudy would be perfectly consistent with the Republican tradition of choosing frontrunners.

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At 12:54 PM, Blogger LJ said...

I think there is indeed merit to this analysis. Interestingly enough, Rudy's defense of Bill Clinton the other day plays into this well. It allows him to appear bi-partisan and generally above the fray. This is a good thing for Rudy.

If Rudy does decide to enter the race, he'd effectively be the new anti-McCain candidate and thus take many votes away from Romney. That split among the anti-McCain side could allow McCain to sneak in a victory in Iowa.

My current thoughts regarding the various primaries are like this:

Without Rudy:

McCain comes in a close 2nd in Iowa. He wins New Hampshire by at least 10 points. South Carolina is the big question, as Liz Mair points out, McCain is still hated there in many areas and Romney is coming on strong. Weaver and Nelson have been putting together multiple avenues in SC in terms of organization and money in order to prevent a repeat of 2000 at all costs. Obviously, I hope it pays off, but I'm not sure just yet. And Michigan should be an easy layup for McCain. Romney's polling much worse in Michigan (6 points behind Giuliani) than I would have expected considering his blanket name recognition and impressive organization and money operation.

With Rudy:

I'm agnostic about Iowa if Rudy's in the race. I think there is a good possibility that Rudy could split the vote and allow McCain to get a win by a couple points. But at the same time, it's also possible that Rudy could pull a John Kerry to McCain's Dean and Romney's Gephardt. One thing we discount is that Iowa has traditionally had a spoiler who picks up an impressive percentage of the vote. How will that affect McCain, Rudy and Romney? As for NH, I still think that McCain will pull out a victory here, but it'll be fascinating to see which way the independents and Dems vote in the open primary. In SC, there could be a similar dynamic to Iowa here, will Rudy split the vote or vault over McCain and Romney for the win. If Rudy does well or even wins SC he'll make Michigan much more competitve and stands a good chance of winning it outright.

Woo. This is going to be an amazing race, I can't wait.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger RudyBlogger said...

Re: NH...

I think Rudy will pick up a great deal of the McCain 2000 vote, and whether that's enough to swing NH, we'll see. McCain got a lot of support last time from economic conservative types who for whatever reason were uncomfortable with W. or the Christian Right. As they learned to like W. and social issues diminished in importance, their allegiances changed. I know of quite a few people who were solidly conservative but voted for McCain in 2000 and now hate the guy. I think Rudy stands to pick up a lot of those votes.

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