Is it do or die for Rudy in Florida? And other Campaign 2008 commentary


The Washington Times has an article this morning that discusses the state of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, and how important Florida will be for him:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, once the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has finished last in five of the first six presidential-nomination contests and tumbled from the top of the national polls, a spot he held unchallenged for months.

His response so far? Sit on the bench, collecting splinters.

After skipping the first half-dozen primaries and caucuses, it’s finally Game Day for the former New York City mayor, and he calls the next battleground β€” Florida β€” “our home field.”

“It’s like going down to the fourth quarter: You know you’re a really good fourth-quarter team β€” you’ve got to score three touchdowns,” he told The Washington Times.

“You know you can do it, but you also know everything’s got to go right for you,” he said with a laugh.

Turning somber, he added: “A loss, and a bad loss, could be crippling.”

Mr. Giuliani’s risky strategy has gone almost exactly according to plan β€” three candidates have won so far, leaving the field crowded and jumbled. Also, each state to date has been a fight between two or three candidates, and none has been able to build lasting momentum.

“The chaos has helped us make everything go right,” Mr. Giuliani said. “The results in all the other primaries have created a wide-open field, and I think we get some help from that. This is still a very wide-open race.”

The polls are tight in Florida right now, essentially making it look like a four way race between McCain, Romney, Huckabee, and Rudy. If Rudy doesn’t come out victorious in Florida next Tuesday, I think his campaign is in serious trouble going into Super Tuesday.

Here is what I think will happen: McCain and Romney are both obviously carrying momentum into Florida after their SC and NV wins respectively. The Romney campaign has money to burn there, and will. The wildcard in all of this will be Fred Thompson. If he decides to pull out of the race before the FL primary – which is next Tuesday – I predict he will throw his support behind his friend and Senate ally John McCain. That support could be enough to push McCain past Romney for the win, but it’s gonna be close. I don’t think Rudy will be as big a factor as he’s hoping he will be, and think he’ll finish third. He’ll stick around through Super Tuesday, but if he doesn’t put in a strong showing, he’ll drop out.

On the Democrat side, the top tier candidates – Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, will all be in SC this week in advance of Saturday’s big primary. Today’s the MLK holiday, and in advance of it, Barack Obama made a big speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Hillary Clinton made one at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, while John Edwards is already in SC campaigning – no doubt claiming he is “from” SC (when he campaigned in NC for the Senate, he claimed NC was his “home state” – it all depends on where he is as to where he’s from …). Tonight, the Dems will take part in a Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored debate in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Barack Obama has finally decided to take the gloves fully off and go after the Clintons with both barrels, claiming the attacks they made on his record are both “troubling” and false. The Hillary “facts hub” tries to counter him here. On a related note, there are fresh allegations (some coming from the Obama camp) surfacing about “widespread cheating and vote suppression” by the Clinton campaign in NV.

The NYT takes a subtle dig at the John Edwards campaign this morning, essentially questioning why he’s still in, especially considering that his own campaign is predicting (acknowledging) that Edwards wll finish in third in SC. The answer is that the man is still in it because he’s an egomaniac who can’t bear the thought that not enough people in the Democratic party believe he has what it takes to lead the country. Heck, maybe the majority have figured out his phoneyism, too.

I would be shocked if Edwards dropped out of the race before Super Tuesday, even though the writing is on the wall as he’s not polling higher than third anywhere. Edwards staying in the race only helps Hillary, as entrance/exit polls from Saturday’s caucus in NV showed that more Edwards supporters would go to Obama than Hillary, should Edwards pull out of the race. So the candidate he’s attacked the strongest is the one benefitting the most from his continued presence in the race for the nomination.

By the same token, I’ve read and heard speculation that Fred Thompson has only stayed in the race up til this point to help out McCain, but I sincerely believe that with the way Thompson rose in the polls in the week leading up to the SC primary, he really thought he had a shot at a strong second place finish. The news buzz is that Thompson is “sounding” like he will drop out of the race sooner than later.

Stay tuned …

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