Will we see this key Romneyite on prominent display in Tampa?
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Yet, for all his conservatives triumphs, Giuliani ended up in the final tally a presidential also-ran, that most unappetizing of Convention speakers (fellow also-ran John McCain’s reported Tampa snub, and the ensuing controversy around it, don’t exactly bode well for Rudy’s speaking chances).
2008 simply was not Rudy’s year. His campaign manager Mike DuHaime famously bypassed Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and targeted the Florida primary —erasing Rudy’s name from the first rounds of media coverage and causing him a third-place finish in Florida on January 29. That Giuliani could run on a promise of tax reform and a record of 23 tax cuts and still not trust early primary voters to look past his pro-choice beliefs signaled either a massive strategy mistake on the part of his campaign or a frustrating reality of the Republican nominating process. At different times over the past four years, Giuliani has blamed both.
Even if he had won the nomination, the financial collapse in September —blamed on the white-collar folks from Rudy’s own neck of the woods — would have sunk him even more drastically than it did McCain. As Bill Clinton told Esquire, “on September 15, when Lehman Brothers failed, the race was over. The only presidential election in my lifetime I think that ended before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.”
With his firm Giuliani Partners overlooking Times Square and his other firm Bracewell and Giuliani located on the 49th floor of a Sixth Avenue office tower near Bank of America, Rudy would have had a tough time stealing voters away from the “nicest doctor” in that race.
But 2012 is a much different election.
In May 2011, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found Giuliani leading the field of possible Republican candidates, ahead of Romney and Sarah Palin. America’s mayor voiced his admiration for McCain’s traditional 2008 primary strategy and set off for a week of events in New Hampshire. He installed a New Hampshire-based spokeswoman and earned the stated confidence of a former New Hampshire Republican chairman. Potential New Hampshire primary voters popped up in mainstream news articles calling him an “amazing gentleman.”
The 2010 Tea Party Revolution — in which Rudy played kingmaker for young icon Marco Rubio and first-time House winners Richard Hanna and Nan Hayworth, among others — had seemingly done for the former mayor what the 1966 midterms did for Nixon. In opposition to an unpopular president, Rudy had set himself up for a comeback.
Of course, it was a comeback squashed by circumstance. When Rudy’s friend Rick Perry entered the race on August 13, the Texas governor instantly took an 11-point lead over Romney in a Rasmussen poll. Florida Republicans were treating Perry like an inevitability as late as mid-September.
Giuliani gave up hope, dropping into the pool of running-mate candidates alongside fresher-faced East Coast dynamo (and confirmed convention speaker) Chris Christie. “I’m a realist, and I understand how the primary system works,” Giuliani sighed.
But for all of Rudy’s self-deprecation, the Republican primary process this year yielded a high-earning blue-state governor pitching what our president calls “top-down economics.”
Faced with an opponent who doesn’t think business owners built their own companies, Republicans may want to hand Rudy a microphone at their convention.
“People who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in oppression. That’s the — that’s the story of the Old Testament. That’s the story of World War II and the cold war. That’s the story of the firefighters and police officers and rescue workers who courageously saved thousands of lives on Sept. 11, 2001,” Giuliani said in a moving speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.
No, Rudy Giuliani will never be president of the United States. But this year, he might still win in Florida.