Giuliani could win if nominated

Scot Lehigh:

RUDY GIULIANI got two different reactions when he came here to the Queen City on Saturday -- reactions that speak to the promise and peril confronting the man known as America's mayor as he mulls a presidential run.

"I'm leaning in his direction," said Richard Heitmiller of Nashua, a retired chief executive. "What impressed me was what he did with the city of New York."

"Rudy is a very capable man," added Vivian Desmarais, a former state representative from Manchester. "He's a doer."

But other Republicans gathered at the Palace Theatre for the state party's annual meeting sounded a different tone.

"I won't vote for him," declared Madelene Moffett of Rochester, a retired secretary. "I want to keep life" -- a pro life position, that is -- "in the Republican Party."

For Republicans, Giuliani is a figure out of comfortable ideological register. Admired both for his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and for his longer record as Gotham's combative, effective chief executive, the thrice-married former mayor is viewed skeptically by conservatives because of his support for abortion rights, civil unions, and gun control.

But he has considerable appeal to independents and Democrats.

"He has the ability to be one of our strongest general election candidates," says David Carney, a former adviser to George H.W. Bush and now a GOP consultant in New Hampshire.

As a Republican with appeal beyond his party, and as the first serious Italian-American presidential candidate ever, Giuliani could make usually dependable Democratic states competitive. (A Quinnipiac University poll shows him beating Hillary Clinton in New Jersey.)

One question, notes Lee Maringoff, director of the Marist Poll, is whether Giuliani's crossover appeal can survive the Republican primaries. Or, put another way, whether Giuliani can survive the GOP nominating process with his current positions intact.

The writer notes that flip flopping to appeal to primary voters would be inconsistent with Rudy's persona. I think he is best served by not switching sides on the social issues, but in down playing them as a priority and making clear that he would not have a litmus test for appointments that touch on those issues. He could be a strong candidate and I think he would make a great President. I would like to see him run and win.

As for his appeal outside the Northeast:


"I think that doesn't matter in the case of Giuliani," says former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who backs Romney. "I have been with Rudy in a number of states -- they include the South and the Midwest -- where you go into a restaurant and everyone would stand and cheer."

I would add that Romney is a very attractive candidate too and would certainly be acceptable at this point.


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