Rudy's good month

Tom Bevans:

Of all the candidates in the Republican field, no one has a right to be happier with the way things have worked out thus far than Rudy Giuliani. Here's a quick look at where things stand:

- After nine months of campaigning, Giuliani remains atop the national polls (to the astonishment of many pundits); he has closed the gap with Mitt Romney to under 4 points in New Hampshire; and he is leading the field in South Carolina and Florida.

- Yesterday Giuliani reported raising $11 million in Q3, putting him atop the Republican money race for the second consecutive quarter. Furthermore, Giuliani has $16 million cash on hand - including more than $11 million available for the primary - which is more than $2 million more than what his nearest competitor has in the bank.

Beyond those numbers, however, recent developments may have made the last month Giuliani's best yet. First, Fred Thompson's performance has been decidedly average since entering the race in early September.

Not only has Thompson failed to set the base on fire but, more importantly, he has generated a recent round of squabbling among religious conservative leaders as to his acceptability. This has prevented Thompson from consolidating the evangelical vote - at least so far.

The result is almost exactly what Rudy would have hoped for if he had drawn up a best case scenario a month ago: Thompson is running well enough to draw votes from others in the race - keeping the social conservative vote split and hurting Romney, Rudy's other major threat, - but not running so well as to have grasped the mantle of the sole conservative option to Giuliani.

The other factor that is working in Giuliani's favor - and one that has gone nearly unnoticed - is the media-fueled strengthening of Hillary Clinton's grip on the Democratic nomination.

One of Giuliani's strongest selling points to conservative voters who may be at odds with him on social issues is the promise that he can run the strongest general election campaign of Republican in the field. Giuliani continually harps on the fact that he scrambles the electoral map, putting states into play that no other Republican can.

But Giuliani's "electability" argument is enhanced considerably when Republicans envision - as most already do - Clinton winning the Democratic nomination. Case in point: in the NBC/WSJ poll released this week Giuliani holds a 7-point lead over Thompson (30% to 23%) among Republican voters. However, when those same Republican voters were asked which candidate had "the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton in the general election," Giuliani's lead over Thompson balloons to 31 points, 47% to 16%.


That is certainly one of the reasons why I like Rudy, although the other top tier candidates would be acceptable. His problem appears to be with the Cristian Conservatives who feel entitled to veto candidates they find less than 100 percent acceptable on their issues. A more rationale approach would be to weigh competing candidates and decide in favor of the one that at a minimum would do the least damage to their cause. Not so with the Dobson crowd which would rather have a candidate who would do maximum damage to their cause than accept one who is imperfect. This is kamikaze politics at its worst. They are acting like the Kos kids and that is no compliment.

Kathleen Parker also discusses the problems with perfection as a standard. Rudy Giuliani admits his imperfections which is a start toward honesty on the issues they say are important to them. If they accept only perfection, how do they get anyone to join them? I know that I am an imperfect person as are they. Perhaps they should look at that issue.


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