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Rudy Hits the Campaign Trail

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Candidates have been hesitantly dipping their toes in the waters of the 2008 election, but as we move further along in the year some of the heavy hitters are beginning to form their exploratory committees and starting to raise money. Last week it was Hillary Clinton for the Democrats, and this week she's balanced out by another New Yorker, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republicans.

Giuliani comes into the race with a commanding lead in the early polls. Among Republican contenders he stands at 34%, compared to 22% for John McCain who declared way back last fall, and a surprising 15% for Newt Gingrich. Giuliani is also polling better against likely Democrat nominees than any other Republican. He's the only Republican who regularly polls higher than Hillary Clinton, though it's neck and neck. In candidate pairings no other Republican beats Clinton in any of the major polls. He also has lower negative ratings than any other declared candidate from either party. With a negative rating of only 37% he blows away all of the Democrats and even beats John McCain's 39%.

Giuliani brings a chimerical record to the campaign, because he combines very strong conservative positions on some issues with very liberal positions on other issues. He's likely to offend several of the core single-issue voting blocks in the GOP, based on a record which is very clear and spin proof. Given his record on the issues, what's remarkable is that Giuliani has a negative rating of only 17% among Republicans in the latest CNN poll, suggesting that a lot of party loyalists are willing to overlook some positions they don't agree with because of Giuliani's reputation for competence and integrity. Another plus is that he appeals to independent voters more than most other Republicans – a key advantage in an election where more voters than ever before are disenchanted with both political parties.

For Republican voters, Giuliani's scores big on issues like fighting crime, terrorism, taxation, fiscal responsibility, welfare reform and education. He was very successful as a prosecuting attorney and as Mayor he cut murders in New York City by more than 2/3, cleaning up the streets in a creative bottom-up program of fighting crime at every level. His record on terrorism is pretty well established. He was the voice of stability and competence during the 9/11 crisis, and has since become a professional security consultant. He's also been outspoken about his belief in a very firm foreign policy when dealing with terrorism.  As Mayor he also managed to cut overall taxes by almost 20%, while cutting the city workforce and turning a multi-billion dollar deficit into a surplus. His record on welfare reform is less familiar, but he substantially reduced the rolls while he was Mayor, and supports programs for reintegrating welfare recipients into the workforce. He also has a very appealing record on education, with a history of substantially improving a declining public school system. He was the first Mayor to promote Charter Schools as an education alternative, and has expressed limited support for other forms of school choice.

Despite an overall positive record, certain groups of Republican voters will be less happy with his stand on some specific issues. Although Giuliani was raised as a Catholic and even considered entering the priesthood, over time he developed a moderately pro-choice position on abortion. He's personally opposed to abortion, but believes that abortion is the woman's choice. He's certainly not a zealot on the issue, but single issue pro-life voters are not going to be comfortable with him. His record on gun rights is also weak. While he supports the right to keep and bear arms in general, he also believes in letting local and state restrictions stand and in the federal restriction of some types of firearms.  

He's not strictly anti-gun, but he's only going to get an endorsement from the NRA if he makes it to the general election, and then because his Democrat opponent will likely be much worse. A lot of pro-gun Republicans (is there any other kind?) are going to find themselves grumbling but voting for him anyway. His position on gay marriage is similarly moderate. While he doesn't support gay marriage, he was outspoken in support of partnership rights for city employees and domestic partnerships in general. It's the same position shared by a lot of moderate Republicans, but it's going to lose him more support from the religious right. Then there's his personal history. He's multiple-divorced, and his second wife accused him of “notorious adultery” when they divorced. Not uncommon in America these days, but it's bound to be the basis of some mudslinging, as will the fact that his first wife was his second cousin.

Giuliani's biggest plus may be that he's seen as a political outsider. He's about as far as you can get from being a Bush crony, and because his record is in local government he isn't tainted by any of the national repugnance for our legislators. He's also refreshingly plainspoken. He actually says what he believes and admits it when he's not sure. It's a nice change from the kind of meaningless babble about “lockboxes” and “compassionate conservatism” we've been deluged with in the last two elections. The biggest challenge for Giuliani is maintaining the early lead he's come into the campaign with, and putting together enough of a coalition from the uneasy Republican base to win the primary. Once he gets to the general election, his charm, honesty and debating skills will make him tough for anyone to beat.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Arch Conservative

    Rudy Guiliani can kiss my ass.

    There’s no way he’s getting my vote!

    Oh and while Rudy’s kissing my ass John Mccain can suck my d*&k because he’s not getting my vote either.

  • Nancy

    Rudy may actually have a chance; a lot of liberals I know are inclined to vote for him if the Dems don’t come up with someone pretty major. Any speculation as to who he’d pick as a running mate?

    Arch is right: McCain has lost a lot of credibility on both sides, & it’s going downhill fast. He’s perceived as being as much of a suck-up & panderer as Hilary, & that’s pretty bad. Also he’s hawkish on The War – NOT what most want to hear in a potential prez.

  • D’oh

    As Arch demonstrates, there’s just no way Rudy will survive the GOP primary process.

    His personal history alone, much less his record on gay rights and abortion automatically preclude him from have the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell in the South.

    Add to it the tradition in the GOP of anointing those whose “turn” it is to run..in this case, McCain…and it becomes a non-starter.

    the Tao of D’oh.

  • Nancy

    I suppose Giuliani could always run as a moderate Democrat…but you’re right: the religious reich would never tolerate him; anyway, they’ve already anointed McCain.

  • Arch supports Romney, of all people, who has less than a snowball’s chance in hell. Giuliani at least appeals to a broad variety of Republicans while alienating a few single issue voters. Romney alienates everyone except the single issue extremists.

    Contrary to D’oh’s theory I don’t think gay rights hurts Giuliani much. He doesn’t support gay marriage, just civil unions, and that’s a position most Republicans can live with except for the tiniest, craziest minority.

    I don’t think his problem is in the primary. He can win that without full party support. His real problem would come in the general election when the loss of the 15% of republicans who are true and total fanatics might be impossible to compensate for with independent and crossover votes. Unless, of course, the democrats run someone who alienatss enough of their own voters to give him the win, like Hillary with her near 50% disapproval in her own party.


  • D’oh

    Dave – all it takes is one stock photo of Rudy at the front of a gay pride parade…and there are plenty of those floating around., to eviscerate him among the “faithful”.

    No way he can take any primary outside of the northeast…and even there he will have problems, short odds in NH means non-starter.

  • Nancy

    Maybe he should run as an Independent….

  • Leslie Bohn

    Rudy will not make it 3 months in this race. Something will quickly drive him from the race involving one or more of the following:

    Supposed Mafia ties
    Bernard Kerik
    One of his marriages/affairs
    Some instance of his combative/narcissistic personality coming through. (Try to find the tape of Mayor Rudy haranguing a ferret-loving caller to Rudy’s old radio show — hilarious)

    Rudy is a nitwit and a lightweight with no chance on a national stage. If by some miracle he actually gets himself into a position to challenge for the nomination, his supposed social liberalism will indeed do him in among the PTB in the GOP.

  • Arch Conservative

    I know what makes everyone think mccain is already in the bag for the nomination. Many, many, in the GOP don’t want this guy to win it.

    I still say it’s going to be Romney unless someone comes out of left field.

    I don’t think the GOP will nominate someone merely because they are “electable” in the general election, especially if it looks like Hillary will be the Dem. I think the GOP base will seek to nominate someone who is both electable but at the same time is sincere about conservative values.

    I don’t think Romney’s mormonism will stand in the way of his getting elected once the nation gets to see him do his thing. He’s good looking, charismatic, intelligent, Obama-like (articulate), possesses the requisite management and financial skills and experience, and surrounds himself with capable quality individuals.

    Guliani is too much of a social liberal and Maccain is Mccain.

    All I have to say to the Nancys and Dave Nalles of the world is don’t misunderestimate Mitt Romney.

  • Aku

    “Romney alienates everyone except the single issue extremists.”

    Any numbers on that, or do you think Southerners are so bigoted the idea of a Mormon in public office is an anathema? After all we all know southerners eat Hate Puffs for breakfast, drink Hateaid for lunch, and have a side of Hate hash for dinner.

  • I have to agree with Leslie, especially “some instance of his combative/narcissistic personality coming through.” Giuliani had the perfect personality (and a lot of good policies) for being Mayor of a New York City that needed a lot of cleaning up. But the American public as a whole likes politicians who seem friendly and optimistic. Hillary beats Rudy on that count. In the primary, McCain, despite his temper (and Rudy’s got a serious temper too), beats Giuliani on that score.

    Giuliani and McCain could go neck and neck in the primary, though. Each has certain appealing and certain unappealing qualities.

  • georgio

    what gets me is this hero image of Rudy after 9/11…all he did was carry out his job as opposed to Negrin of New Orleans who failed so how does that make him a hero..It’s just like Obama..he wouldn’t even be a Sen…if his opponents where not crucified by a bad marraige…the same thing can happen to Rudy if his ex wife sounds off…

  • I still say it’s going to be Romney unless someone comes out of left field.

    The highest a major poll has Romney at is 3%. Do you get that? He’s not even on the radar for most voters.

    I don’t think the GOP will nominate someone merely because they are “electable” in the general election, especially if it looks like Hillary will be the Dem.

    Well, they should, especially if that’s the best way to keep Hillary out of office. Your priorities are terribly screwed up. You’d rather see a socialist/statist win than make any compromises. You might as well leave the GOP.

    I think the GOP base will seek to nominate someone who is both electable but at the same time is sincere about conservative values.

    Fortunately not everyone in the GOP has the same narrow definition of what REAL conservative values or more to the point the real values of the GOP are.


  • Arch Conservative

    “Romney alienates everyone except the single issue extremists.”

    That comment wot withstanding, Dave’s no idiot. He knows that if it’s Hillary vs. Mitt there will be a lot of christian evangelicals wearing Joseph Smith t-shirts come November 2008.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Well, they should, especially if that’s the best way to keep Hillary out of office. Your priorities are terribly screwed up. You’d rather see a socialist/statist win than make any compromises. You might as well leave the GOP.”

    The primaries are the time to vote your conscience and the general is the time to get practical. of course I’m going to vote for Mccain, as much as it pains me, if it’s him or Hillary in Nov 08 Dave.

    I really don’t understand this fascination you have with Romney as an alienator Dave. You keep mentioning Romney’s poll numbers. At this stage in the game polls are useless. Obama was only trailing Clinton by a few points just weeks ago and now he’s 20 points down.

    Aside from the fact that Romney’s a mormon….what is it about the man that you think is going to turn people off Dave?

  • That may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve eve rheard, Arch. Christian evangelicals would like to see the entire Mormon faith in death camps and you know it.


  • Arch Conservative

    Yes I know that evangelicals are not big fans of Mormons Dave but I also know their even less of fans for socialist hags like Hillary who are in bed with such fine organizations as planned abortionhood and naral.

    Do you honestly think that evangelicals would opt for Hillary over Mitt?

  • Any numbers on that,

    Sure. The latest poll shows Romney with the second highest negative rating among Republican voters of any Republican candidate, right behind Newt Gingrich. I’d guess he would do even worse in the general election, but no one is even polling about him in that context because he’s not considered a viable candidate.

    or do you think Southerners are so bigoted the idea of a Mormon in public office is an anathema?

    Southerners? Mormons are just as suspect or more so to northerners.

    After all we all know southerners eat Hate Puffs for breakfast, drink Hateaid for lunch, and have a side of Hate hash for dinner.

    We do? They don’t even sell them in the stores here in Texas.


  • Aku

    “The highest a major poll has Romney at is 3%. Do you get that? He’s not even on the radar for most voters”

    Oh please, all polls resister now is name recognition. 3%? Big deal. Try similar polls for Clinton years out from his run. I the numbers would be even less.

    Additional Point: The 2008 election season is barely on the radar for most voters, political junkies not included, thus it is no surprise Romney’s number is so low. His event has not even started for most people yet.

    Plus, you need to look at who Romney is targeting. It is not voters at large, it is strictly the active, in-party, people for the moment. Again, no surprise voters in general do not register him.

  • Aku

    “We do? They don’t even sell them in the stores here in Texas”

    Having grown up there, I would say you are not looking hard enough. 😉

  • Aku, that’s not 3% among the general population, it’s 3% among registered republicans who should have some idea who the declared candidates are.

    Some folks take pride in pointing out that I’ve been wrong before, but I’m willing to predict here and now that Romney won’t even be in the top 3 at the convention.


  • Aku

    “I’d guess he would do even worse in the general election, but no one is even polling about him in that context because he’s not considered a viable candidate.”

    See comment above, How can you generalize about primaries, much less elections from, from polling when the event in question has not picked up yet. Plus, did you catch the NR cover story from Dec (I think). There are some that woud disagree based on actual interviews rather than polls that tell you so little.

  • Aku

    We could continue this, but whats the point. I will say this. Mormons, for the most part have been solid Republicans. There is no state more red than Utah. Outside of Utah, Mormons still vote Republican.

    What is the first and main objection raised against Romney. He is Mormon. So the message to Mormons is “We like your votes, but you’re people can’t be president.”

    What a nice party to be in.

  • That’s not a message from the GOP, it’s a message from the general populace. Mormons are looked on with suspicion because of their history and lifestyle. People are always nervous about those who are different – that’s human nature.

    Have you seen the SouthPark episode on Mormonism? That pretty much sums up popular opinion on them.


  • Aku

    The same was true of Catholics in the past. Discounting Romney because of his Mormonism would be like discounting Kennedy because of his Catholicism in 1960.

    And if the main objection in the GOP is his Mormonism, then the message is from the GOP Dave. Who is talking about his Mormonism being a problem in the PRIMARIES Dave, most, but not all, are closed. It’s members of the GOP making the stink, and members of the GOP who presumably would not vote for him because of religion. How could this not be a GOP message, Dave?

    Blaming bigoted attitudes, if you share them or not, on the populace and not on their purveyors, is like the drug dealer who avoids all blame by saying he is only giving the people what they want. Bigotry is not to be accepted, but confronted.

    Perhaps I give more credit to the American people than you do. I think once people get to know each other, as people will get to know Romney hopefully, this prejudice will be put aside, and people will decide on his character and politics, not on his religion as some have.

  • I didn’t say the main objection of the GOP was his Mormonism, but that it was something the public in general will find alienating.

    I think the problem for the GOP is that he’s not that well known and doesn’t offer anything unique and really attractive compared to other candidates.

    And I do think you give too much credit to the American people. They’re fine folks in many ways, but they’re not always entirely open minded.


  • I just added a cool link to the article in the third to last paragraph to a site which tracks issue statements and positions. You can find it here

    What makes it particularly interesting in light of other recent discussions is that it includes a rating of the candidates on their version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, which they also have available for you to take. So now you can compare your results on the quiz with those of the candidates.

    You can take the test and it will tell you which candidate is the closest match. Right now it only has the 2004 candidates, but even that’s amusing. Michael Badnarik was my closest match, but much to my horror the next closest was John Kerry. Then I compared my scores with ‘political celebrities’ and got a result I’m too humiliated to even mention. So, it’s not entirely accurate, but it’s fun to play around with anyway.


  • Arch Conservative

    I took the political celebs quiz and Pat Buchanan was my closest match.

    I have always thought Pat would make a great president.

    He’s sorta like the anti Hillary.

  • Arch Conservative

    Dave I know how much you like polls so I just thought I’d mention that Rasmussen is reporting today that Romney’s favorable numbers are rising while his unfavorable numbers are dropping.

    Food for thought.

  • Maurice

    Interesting that Giuliani can be guilty of Eaton style of behavior and yet be considered electable.

    We’ve come a long way.

  • Clavos

    I hope they update that quiz.

    I liked it, but also was embarrassed by my closest match.

    Next closest was Badnarik.

  • OMG, based on my results, if you had Badnarik second I bet you had Kerry or Hillary first. Am I right?

    And I’m with Maurice. If the public can overlook Giuliani’s personal scandals – which match about half of theirs pretty closely – then we’ve come a long way in a positive direction.


  • Nancy

    Most interesting report on WTOP radio last night, to the effect that 48% of registered GOPs think that New Gingrich would be capable of revitalizing & reenergizing the GOP in the election – & that he’s thinking about it. Newt G. Talk about resurrection-! Now THAT would be a really amazing thing if it happens.

  • Newt has all the bad personal baggage that Giuliani has and more, plus he’s a pariah to moderates. He might have a good chance in the primary, but he’d be a disaster in the general election.


  • Aku

    On dave quiz link,

    For the 2000 race I came up with McCain as my top followed closely by W. McCain and Regan tied for first place in the celeb category.

    It really is a shame. If it was not for the Gang of 14 incident, I might have voted McCain in the future.

  • Nancy

    I’m just reporting on what I heard. Personally, I was surprised that he still had a political career at all, let alone that anyone in their right minds would consider him for prez. Maybe I misheard, & missed the part that said it was 48% of republicans in the nuthouse or something.

  • MCH

    “Newt has all the bad personal baggage that Giuliani has and more…” writes Dave Nalle, boldly ignoring his own recent bout with the fraudulent Vox Populi episode.

    CEO of the “MCH Exception”)

  • Aku

    Having suffered defeat, is it a suprise that people would turn to Newt, who engineered their last success. It is a sign that no true leader has steped out of the mess of the last election and the party has little faith in its Congressmen to actualy do anything better than before.

    It is not about Newt, its about now.

  • D’oh

    tsk tsk..Newt is another non-starter…remember why he was ousted as Speaker? Even if the religious right could get past what he has done with wives and interns there’s always his new take on doing away with the First Amendment’s pesky Free Speech.

  • Nancy

    I remember full well, but lots of republicans apparently have shorter memories. Plus the blatant hypocrisy of the cheating thing also helped altho you discount it, because he was the one making the most noise about Bill C. all the while he was doing the very same thing himself.

  • Newt and Giuliani and even Clinton are all reminders that politics should not be about penises and where they are being used.


  • D’oh

    Fair enough, but do try and remember who dragged penises into it, and spent over $40 million on it, as well as went so far as to impeach a sitting President over it.

    In politics, you can’t throw shit around one day and not get hit with it the next.

  • Once again, D’oh, you’ve made the mistake of thinking that I have a partisan agenda, or more precisely you’ve mistaken where my allegiance lies. Have you ever seen me say one word in support of the ridiculous persecution Clinton was subjected to?

    Clinton’s persecution was revenge for Nixon. Bush has been harassed mercilessly as revenge for Clinton. All three presidents had flaws and did things wrong. All three were hounded by the press and the opposing party far more than they really deserved.


  • D’oh

    Dave, I can readily agree that you were NOT part of the problem concerning the whole Clinton/Monica fiasco.

    Might I suggest you are projecting too much shit my way, and instead you might want to just read what I type?

    Bush gets shit because he is an extreme fuck up in many ways. Some of that spills onto you (not all, by any means) due to your defending some of his policies.

    As for your partisan loyalties, you yourself have stated you are a registered Republican, not Independant or Libertarian (any longer, I know you have said that you were at onetime).

    Bush hasn’t gotten half the kicking around he deserves just for the things he’s done..I could give a shit about “revenge”…just holding him fully accountable for what he and his Administration have done since 2000.

    Same as I do with anyone…especially myself. to say otherwise is disingenuous.

    the Tao of D’oh.

  • Obviously we’re going to disagree on how much kicking around Bush deserves. I think holding him accountable is fine, because I believe that in an impartial examination of his ‘crimes’ he would likely be exonerated.

    And I’m not registered as a Republican. There’s no party registration in Texas.


  • Aku

    On the original subject of this article, I found this at the Weekly Standard.

    I found it refreshing because it introduces something at the end of the article forgotten (or at least not emphasised) in many discussions of Rudy, the tendency by some to put more weight on character, rather than politics and policies. According to the article, Rudy wins on character. We will see if that endures through the primary process.

  • I agree that Rudy’s character is a positive factor, but I think a lot of people on both the right and the left are going to point to his three marriages and his affairs as a big negative character issue.


  • Emry

    “…big negative character issue.


    Vox Populi Nalle.

  • Arch Conservative

    Fuck Rudy. He should stay in NYC with all the other liberal douchebags. That’s where he belongs..not in the White House.

  • Arch, the fact that you find Rudy so threatening is one of the finest endorsements he could have.


  • Arch Conservative

    Who said I found him threatening? I know he won’t get the GOP nomination.

    He’s the topic of this article and I just don’t like him. I was expressing my opinion of him and what I think he ought o do. I don’t know exactly what I said in my last post that would lead one to think I am threatened by him. Don’t go reading too much into other people’s posts Dave.

  • MCH

    “Oh and while Rudy’s kissing my ass John Mccain can suck my d*&k because he’s not getting my vote either.”
    – Arch/Bing

    Vox Populi said that very same thing once.