Monday, March 28, 2011

Can Giuliani be a player in 2012?

Last week, one of the better New England political reporters, the award-winning David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix, posted a pretty targeted blog post about former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani coming to New Hampshire to feel out a potential 2012 race: ["NH Whiffs On Giuliani-Mocking"].
I posted a note of my own there. But, I decided to follow up with some expanded comments about Giuliani and others in the 2012 Republican field.
First, it seems to me that most of the field have complete delusions of grandeur.
I have to wonder if any of the candidates - beyond maybe former Gov. Mitt Romney - are really serious at this point, since he seems to be the only one laying a solid, national foundation. Gov. Haley Barbour maybe - he can set a course for a ton of delegates right out of the gate, from previous relationships, favors, and the south (we'll get to that later). But former Sen. Rick Santorum? Please. He was wiped out in Pennsylvania after people got a sniff of the fact that he was thinking he was presidential timber. Pennsylvania, you know, a huge swing state with a slew of working people who are getting hammered by the policies of corporate Democrats and Republicans? Why is anyone taking him seriously?
Newt Gingrich is another example. He has no regional base, no specific issue to champion, and has serious morality problems ... note, the plural. And yet, he's taken seriously as a candidate too?
While none of us is perfect, I think we can count on maybe one hand (or one finger) the number of people we know who would serve their spouses with divorce papers while they lay on their death bed with cancer. If you've got a thing for a hottie, OK, stay married, be discrete about it and hope you don't get caught (or do nothing, and keep your vows to God, for goodness sake), and never run for president. Gingrich must be thinking, "Well, unlike Clinton, I've never been accused of raping someone so, I still have a chance to be taken seriously." Well, maybe. But probably not.
The worse thing about Gingrich is that I do listen to him talk and I find some of his ideas quite interesting. I listen intently and take his brain seriously. And then my head starts to spin like a Warner Brothers cartoon character and I have to remind myself that this is Newt Gingrich who is talking, not Jerry Brown, Ron Paul, or some other deep thinker. And this is before Newt gets into the what-seems-like phony God talk. Sorry buddy, I don't need to be lectured on morality or God by the likes of you (and most voters don't either).
Mike Huckabee is one who might be difficult to beat. But having watched his Fox News show - the other day he had a nice tribute to Geraldine Ferraro, BTW - it is clear that he probably isn't going to run. He has really packed on the pounds. One of his strongest talking points the last time around was his own personal health problems and fights with obesity. People related to that in him and he was showing people you can make time to exercise and you can better yourself. But look at him now. Yikes. The fact that Huckabee did so well in 2008 is proof that he will do well in the 2012 primaries if he runs again. And, as I can attest to, since I've met him and interviewed him twice, he and his wife are extremely likable. Dangerously so, actually. And, as he has shown in previous races for governor, he can corral black voters into his camp. Imagine a Republican actually going into places like Detroit or Roxbury or Brooklyn and shaking hands with folks old-school-style, peeling away potential support for Barack? Huckabee can do that.
Barbour has some of the same strategic placement that Huckabee has - without the potential black vote thing. Southern governor, very popular with the base, has a lot of chits out there, who knows. Canceling a trip to New Hampshire to go back to your state and do your job doesn't cost you anything. We understand that here. He is clearly a top tier candidate by just hinting at a run.
Romney is also a top tier candidate and, from what I'm hearing, the one to beat. There is a lot of consternation about the health care thing. But the government assisting with health care isn't the thing that will hurt him here ... it's the insurance mandate. It will hurt him with small business folks and indie leaning moderates and conservatives who don't want to be forced to subsidize big insurance companies. RomneyCare, just like ObamaCare, is the worst of all options ... it's the individual subsidizing the corporation at gunpoint.
I sense that some of the younger candidates might be thinking, "Well, I don't want to be the McCain of 2012. Better to run in an open primary and election in 2016." I don't think, once the Dems realize what is at stake, that Obama is going to be an easy beat, especially if the Republican nominees are white males going on and on about abortion. But who do the Dems have lined up for 2016 if Obama does win re-election? Joe Biden? He'll be 74. Will he really want to schlep all over the place in a bloody open primary like Al Gore did in 2000? Will he be even more gaff prone than he is now? There is no natural heir apparent in 2016 for the Dems and things are bound to be a lot worse as we continue to be in a race to the bottom against global citizens who earn a fraction of what we do.
But, you never know with this fickle state ... sometimes we can really surprise people with our choices.
And then, there is Giuliani who really should be laughed out of any consideration after the disastrous last campaign, spending tens of millions of dollars to win one delegate and basically having no real message or purpose in the race beyond cheap-shotting Romney at times, and all the other stuff about the guy (problems with marriages, can anyone say Bernie Kerik?, etc.)
However, I don't truly believe that there is no "second chance" for Giuliani, as noted by Fergus Cullen in the UL on Saturday: ["New Hampshire's bad first date with Giuliani"].
Giuliani does have one chance for 2012 ... he needs to actually tell people who he really is: A flawed yet plain-spoken, moderate, pro choice, efficient prosecutor, and a relatively effective mayor of one of the largest cities on the planet that was able to bring people together when times were good and times were bad. That's it, just be honest.
And then, set a strategic course: First, let the tea party and corporate conservatives battle for the 70 percent of the active party and you go for the rest of them. Retail it in the first four states. Stake out key voting sectors in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, carve out a chunk of moderate to conservative independents who will be voting in the Republican primary in New Hampshire (since the Dems won't have anyone beyond fringe candidates) while not allowing your national presence to diminish (I don't know what you do in South Carolina ...).
Maybe talk to Donald Trump now and find out if he is willing to be the VP, securing half a billion in potential financing to run, and go for it. Don't hire big consultants but start soon. Go find out what is going on with real people right now - good advice for any Republican. If you do that, you'll all realize that half your public positions and policies don't and won't work, the same way half the Democrats' policies don't work either.
I don't think that Giuliani's current hint at running is going to work though: ["In Palm Beach, Giuliani talks about 2012, Obama, Palin, Romney, tea parties"]:
“If all we are faced with are candidates that are too far right so that they can’t win the general election, then that’s when I’d reconsider doing it.”
That's all well and good. But Rudy, to be honest, this isn't sandlot baseball. You need to want it. You're never going to win if that's your reason for running.
But maybe he really doesn't want it. And if that's the case, he shouldn't run at all. Pick a horse and go out and help that horse win instead.


Mike Rice said...

This country is hopelessly broke and headed toward third world status. Who in their right mind would want the job?

Electing a president in this country is like putting a new hood ornament on the same old sputtering car.

Mark de Zabaleta said...

It is a complicated issue!

Mark de Zabaleta

nygrump said...

Ghouliani is dead in the water - his 'trusted' police commissioner was mobbed up - and his exwife has some good things to say about the adulterer's family values. But bloomie is much more of a fascist structurally then ghouliani who was just a petty tyrant.