Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rudy's campaign kaput

Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign appears all but formally dead tonight after he finished third in Florida -- the state for which he had skipped campaigning in the early primaries and focused most his energy, the state that on Monday he said would pick the Republican nominee.
Perhaps he was living an illusion all along.

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s campaign for the Republican nomination for president took impressive wing last year, as the former mayor wove the pain experienced by his city on Sept. 11, 2001, and his leadership that followed into national celebrity. Like a best-selling author, he basked in praise for his narrative and issued ominous and often-repeated warnings about the terrorist strike next time.

Voters seemed to embrace a man so comfortable wielding power, and his poll numbers edged higher to where he held a broad lead over his opponents last summer. Just three months ago, Anthony V. Carbonetti, Mr. Giuliani’s affable senior policy adviser, surveyed that field and told The New York Observer: “I don’t believe this can be taken from us. Now that I have that locked up, I can go do battle elsewhere.”

In fact, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign was about to begin a free fall so precipitous as to be breathtaking. Mr. Giuliani finished third in the Florida primary on Tuesday night; only a few months earlier, he had talked about the state as his leaping-off point to winning the nomination.

As Mr. Giuliani ponders his political mortality, many advisers and political observers point to the hubris and strategic miscalculations that plagued his campaign.
(The presumed end of Giuliani for President unfortunately dates a cover story I wrote for this week's Jewish Journal. Our paper is sent to the printer on Tuesday afternoon, several hours before the Florida outcome was known, and won't hit the streets until Thursday. Still, I read back through my article, which takes a look at who Jews are excited about and how they are involved with the campaigns -- Rudy was a favorite of Republican Jews -- and it didn't seem stale. Just that it needs an explanation, which it was given in the form of an editor's note.)

Giuliani's fall from grace really is amazing. As readers of The God Blog know, I was never a fan of the former mayor, whom I met in New York two years ago. (He was giving one of those expensive 45-minute speeches on "leadership during crisis" at a bail-industry conference that I was writing about for some extra green.) But many Republicans loved Giuliani, and when he entered the race, it was clearly his to lose.

In the past month alone, Giuliani's support among California Republicans plummeted 14 percentage points from 25 percent.

I just hope he makes it another two days, though CBS News is reporting he won't.

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