Rudy Giuliani Enjoying Presidential Guessing Game
Howard Fineman believes that, “Rudy Giuliani may or may not run for president. But he’s having a heavenly time thinking about it.”
All of which makes Rudy Giuliani’s intentions pivotal—”maybe the most important chess piece on the table right now,” said a GOP strategist close to McCain, who declined to discuss a potential rival on the record. The effect of a Rudy run? There are those who think the presence of a pro-choice, pro-gay-rights New Yorker would help McCain by making him seem to be a comparative godsend to evangelicals. But the two men, who are personally close, occupy the same macho shelf space, and the clear hope—and expectation—among McCainanites is that Rudy will ultimately stand down. Some other Republican insiders join them in thinking (hoping) that Giuliani would rather continue raking in piles of cash building his business empire ($100,000-a-gig speeches, security consulting, investment banking and regulatory law). They note that he hasn’t made any of the usual groundwork-laying moves, such as lining up a media firm or a coordinator in New Hampshire.
But those who say he’ll fold may not know the man, his history—or what he is really up to. Decades of jousting with the New York press have left him with a hide of titanium. Without much national notice, he’s worked the rubber-chicken circuit, making 140 appearances in the last two years. He’s been smoking cigars with Ahnold in California, and is slated to do fund-raisers for him, as well as the big GOP Senate dinner in Washington this spring. A few weeks ago in Florida, he did the drop-by of all drop-bys as the “surprise guest” at the annual convention of the Global Pastors Network. He wowed them with his energy and his revival-style witness to his faith in Jesus. Ralph Reed, a godfather of religious conservatives, thinks Giuliani’s charisma may help him overcome his social-issues liberalism in the Bible belt. “He can take control of a room better than any politician I’ve seen,” said Reed. The key moment with the pastors was in the private holding room, where he spent quality time among their leaders. Giuliani told them that the keyto his final decision on whether to run would be whether he thought he could raise enough cash. But he didn’t sound as if he had much doubt—and nothing going on in Memphis this week is likely to change his mind.
Giuliani is the best of the star candidates, in my view. He has, in Fineman’s words “near-total name ID, a 9/11 hero’s aura—and, most valuable in these post-Katrina days, a reputation for administrative competence.” He has better “middle ground” credentials than McCain without the antipathy within the base. And 9/11 is enough to shore him up with most social conservatives.
George Allen, my senator, is an interesting candidate but does not have the national reputation that McCain, Guiliani, Newt Gingrich, and other potential candidates have. I don’t see how he raises enough money to have a shot, even with Virginia as a base.
Bill Frist’s stock has rightly gone down after a lackluster tour as Majority Leader. As impressive as he is on paper, and I suspect in person, he is also duller than dishwater on television.
Mitt Romney is an impressive character but has little national name recognition. And there’s the Mormon thing.
Gingrich is brilliant and fascinating but has some positively revolting personal baggage.