Campaign Crawlers

Leadership Shrugged

Rudy didn't play by his own rules.

By 2.1.08

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After he left his job as mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani wrote the best-selling book Leadership and made millions of dollars giving lectures on effective management techniques. Too bad for him that he systematically ignored his own advice when he decided to run for president.

Prepare Relentlessly: In his book, Giuliani explains that as prosecutor and mayor, he studied every problem that came before him intensely, and prepared for every possibility he could imagine so that he would be ready if something unexpected happened.

During his run for the presidency, however, he gave off the impression that he was making things up as he went along. When Giuliani declared on Larry King Live last February, "Yes, I'm running," without following it up with a formal announcement, it set the tone for a campaign that seemed to lack a clear plan.

The popular narrative is that Giuliani's strategy was to skip the early states and wait it out until Florida, but it wasn't that way all along. At various points, Giuliani did try to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Michigan, but the problem was that he was always hemming and hawing and not making his intentions clear. Had he prepared relentlessly for the biggest challenge of his life, he may have settled on a strategy before he announced he was running.

On the campaign trail, Giuliani prided himself on being unscripted. There is a certain appeal to that, but the problem was that in stump speeches and town hall meetings, he often gave long, meandering talks without a clear focus.

His lack of preparation also showed on the policy front. It was well known that the greatest obstacle to his ability to win the Republican nomination was his pro-choice views, so one would think that he would have hit the trail running prepared for every permutation of questions on abortion law and policy.

Instead, he clumsily expressed support for public financing for abortions early on in the campaign, immediately compounding the suspicious of pro-lifers. While he eventually emphasized his support for increasing adoptions, it would have been much more effective had he articulated such views right out of the gate.

Everyone's Accountable, All of the Time: One of the main tools Giuliani employed to reduce crime in New York City was Compstat, in which crime statistics were gathered and plotted on maps of the city to see where large concentrations of crimes were taking place, and then police commanders were challenged to reduce crimes in areas under their control.

During his presidential campaign, Giuliani pledged to build on the success of Compstat by initiating Borderstat to help end illegal immigration, Fedstat to make the government more efficient, and Terrorstat to track progress in the War on Terror. But he should have started with a Campaignstat program. During 2007, Giuliani spent nearly $50 million, according to a Federal Election Commission filing released yesterday. Given his late push in Florida in January, the full cost of his campaign is higher.

Giuliani burnt through a lot of money by trying to run a national organization looking toward February 5, but had he concentrated more resources on the early states instead of spreading himself so thin, he may have actually made it there.

Stand Up To Bullies: Throughout his career as mayor and as prosecutor, Giuliani stood up to mobsters, crooked union bosses, and UN diplomats who wouldn't pay their parking tickets. To his critics, he was ruthless and nasty. But for much of the presidential campaign, he seemed to be running for Mr. Congeniality.

When Giuliani was the frontrunner, Mitt Romney attacked him on a regular basis, but other than a short period in the fall during which time Giuliani hit Romney on crime, taxes, and for running a "sanctuary mansion," he refused to go on offense against Romney or any of his other rivals. Though he may have come off angry and abrasive at times as mayor, Giuliani's sheer tenacity wore down political opponents.

Giuliani showed flashes of his old combativeness at times during the campaign, particularly when he put Ron Paul in his place for suggesting that U.S. foreign policy contributed to the September 11 attacks and when he goaded the New York Times into giving him the same discounted advertising rate the newspaper gave MoveOn.org for taking out the General Betray Us ad, so he could take out an ad defending General Petraeus. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that these were two of the best moments of his candidacy.

Be Your Own Man: Because he had to placate conservatives on issues such as guns, immigration, and abortion, Giuliani no doubt had to engage in some political jujitsu to have any chance of winning the nomination. But on many other issues, Giuliani engaged in unnecessary pandering that undermined his image as a no nonsense leader.

For instance, when asked about farm subsidies in one debate, it would have been the perfect opportunity for him to launch into a Rudy-style rant about what an utter boondoggle they are. Instead, he gave a mealy mouthed answer about the need to secure world food supply.

When he got desperate in Florida, Giuliani closed out his campaign with a series of shameless local panders -- including a promise to invest more in the space program and support a National Catastrophic Fund to lower homeowners insurance rates for those who live in hurricane or natural disaster-prone areas.

Now that Giuliani is out of the race, he'll have time to reflect on what went wrong with his campaign. He should start by picking up a copy of his own book.

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About the Author

Philip Klein is The American Spectator's Washington correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Philipaklein