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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kent says:

    I can’t decide how to feel about a Romney candidacy. I like a lot of things about Romney, but I shudder at the thought of the flood of anti-Mormon commentary that would be triggered by his candidacy.

  2. Yhoi says:

    I think that current NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg would be an awsome candidate. Unlike Guliani, he comes from a successful business background and has really been an effective mayor. Guliani has some serious ethics issues as well. Remember that it was Guliani who pushed Bush into nominating the crook Bernie Kerik as head of Homeland Security. If people think that Chertoff has been terribly ineffective, imagine what it would have been like under a political hack like Kerik. Guliani is like Bush to the extent that he looks to loyalty rather than competence to fill positions.

    Bloomberg demands results and has shaken up city hall significantly to get rid of the complacency that marked most of Guliani’s tenure. Just because Rudy gave some good speeches after 9/11 doesn’t mean he would be an effective executive.

  3. anjin-san says:

    I liked Giuliani as mayor, but can’t get past the fact that when called by his country to serve as head of homeland security, he had more important things to do (make money) and tried to foist a hack on our country in his stead. (Well we ended up with a different hack).

    I guess serivce is ok for grunts getting shot at in Iraq, but not for Rudy.

  4. RA says:

    “Social Conservatives” will vote for no one if both Democrat and Republican candidates are abortionists.

  5. “And 9/11 is enough to shore him up with most social conservatives”

    Yeah, I can just see some of the religious conservatives complaining about gay marriages being a threat to the sanctity of marriage, and THEN supporting a candidate who paraded his mistress at official functions for months and months (I bet Ms. Giuliani felt really honored as a wife by that behavior).

    So his completely crappy heterosexual marriage is going to save America’s moral values? I don’t think Guiliani has a chance, but he might follow his main man Chertoff down the road to getting a nice appointment in the next administration…

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    I think Romney actually would make a good President. Has a good managerial style and political instincts. Easily won against a Dem establishment candidate in MA and was able to address budget shortfalls without making tax concessions in bleeding heart liberal state. Is showing good instincts by leaving on a high note as opposed to Weld, Celluci and Swift who all were pretty much finished by the time they left.