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Tag Archives: Rudy Giuliani

At this time (late January 2008) the Republican field has been narrowed to five more or less serious and viable candidates for president.  Speculation is going to rev up soon regarding who should be considered for the position of vice president.  Here’s my list of those who won’t (first) and those who might (second) be chosen for the party’s Veep nomiation.

Keep in mind that a candidate’s appearance on this list says nothing about his viability in the ongoing race.

First, those who absolutely won’t be selected:

  1. John McCain – At age 72 he’s too old, he’s too proud, and he has more power and prestige as a senator than he’d ever have as the Vice President.
  2. Rudy Giuliani – Too liberal, too combative, too proud. Giuliani wouldn’t enhance the ticket as a #2 for anybody.
  3. Mitt Romney – I’m pretty sure the other Republicans all hate his guts, except for maybe Fred Thompson, who is out the door and and won’t be needing him.
  4. Ron Paul – too flakey and too high negatives, plus a past that includes some really weird newsletters published under his byline.


Secondly, here’s a list of good Veep candidates. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; these are just my favorites.

  1. Mike Huckabee – If he’s unsuccessful in his run for Prexy, Huckabee (who is only 52 years old and will most certainly run again) would benefit from 4-8 years as Veep. Throw in the fact that he’s an excellent debater and a genuine Southern conservative, and he makes an attractive #2 for any Yankee.
  2. Tommy Thompson – has national ambitions, was a successful and popular Republican governor in Wisconsin, and is a policy expert in a variety of areas.
  3. Tim Pawlenty – a young, handsome, popular, born-again, conservative Republican governor in the most liberal of midwestern states (Minnesota), Pawlenty is a gifted campaigner and has been noticed nationally for his success in balancing the Minnesota budget when it was badly in the red, as well as for being national co-chair of McCain’s campaign.
  4. Ed Schafer – currently being confirmed as the new Ag Sec, former North Dakota governor Schafer is an articulate and affable politician with a squeaky clean image and a gift for compromise.
  5. Lindsay Graham – This senator from South Carolina is a thoughtful, rational, soft-spoken conservative with excellent credentials. Graham is respected throughout the party, and is on good terms with both fiscal and social conservatives.

Here are some things to look for in tonight’s Republican debate.  Watch and see how right or wrong I am.

  • Everyone will talk a lot about the US economy
  • Mike Huckabee will be asked at least two questions about his faith.
  • John McCain will insult Willard “Mitt” Romney in a seemingly subtle way that really isn’t very subtle, if you think about it.
  • Mitt Romney will lie about someone else’s record.
  • Ron Paul’s answer to at least one question will include the words, “I mean come on!” as well as a fit of quacking and stuttering.
  • Rudy Giuliani will cackle hysterically at one or more of Huckabee’s quips, because he can’t help himself.
  • Huckabee will shine in this debate, and he always does.  His fundraising will skyrocket for the next three days or so, his poll numbers (both in Florida and nationally) will spike 5-10 points in the next few days.

If you follow politics, late you’ve heard a lot of Republican candidates for president bemoaning so-called “personal attacks” against them.  I’m wondering whether anyone has undertaken to define exactly what a personal attack is.

A personal attack, it seems to me, must be personal in nature – that is, names have to be named.  It would help if it wasn’t issues-oriented, but directed at some nonsensical personal attribute or quirk.  And if you listen to the victims, apparently they’re all lies and half-truths.

Here are some suggested personal attacks which I’m sure haven’t been advanced by any candidates.  Please note that I have tried to keep these blurbs in character for the speaker – for instance, Mike Huckabee’s are generally humorous or religious in nature, John McCain’s often refer to national defense or legislative matters, and Mitt Romney’s tend to be unfair or deceptive.

  • Giuliani against Huckabee: “Mike Huckabee’s feet stink.  It’s from too much running.  His feet, they really a stink.  He should be prosecuted for those stinky feet.  Trust me, I’m a lawyer.”
  • Giuliani against McCain: “John McCain is a good man, but he wasn’t born in the USA.  He was born in the Panama Canal zone, which makes him ineligible to be president.  That’s right, he isn’t a natural-born citizen.  Trust me, I’m a lawyer.”
  • Giuliani against Romney: “Mitt Romney has money hidden offshore in banks in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.  Lots of money.  My investigators could have written a book on the guy.  In fact they did!  They did write a book about Mitt Romney’s business dealings.  I’ll have it published after I’m elected.  Trust me, I’m a lawyer.”
  • Giuliani against Thompson: “Fred Thompson is bald, he has a big nose, and his socks don’t match.  Look, a man who can’t match his socks should not be the President of the United States of America.”
  • Huckabee against Giuliani: “After I’m elected Rudy can work in the White House kitchen.  He’ll work the night shift.  Then I can call him at night, wake ‘im up and say, ‘Hey Rudy, make me some of that great Flatbush Italian spaghetti!'”
  • Huckabee against McCain: “I think Senator McCain is a great American hero.  Let’s give the man a statue, and let’s do it quickly, before he dies of old age.”
  • Huckabee against Romney: “Don’t Mormons wear magic underwear?  Not that I would know anything about that.”
  • Huckabee against Thompson: “I think Fred needs some Metamucil, I think it would help a lot…he was in a bad mood last night.”  (oops – my bad, he actually said this after the Myrtle Beach, SC debate!)
  • McCain against Giuliani: Rudy Giuliani was negligent in failing to prevent the 9-11 attacks.  My friends, I would have prevented those attacks, I would have re-hijacked and landed those aircraft myself if need be.”
  • McCain against Huckabee: “I defer to Mike Huckabee in all matters.  The truth is, my friends, he should be president, not me.”
  • McCain against Romney: “My friends, although I have great confidence in Governor Romney to be a just and thoughtful and honorable leader should you elect him, I feel it’s my duty now to inform you that he’s a dirty little rat fink who lucked out of the military draft for Viet Nam.  And his first name is Willard.  Ha-ha!”
  • McCain against Thompson: “Fred wasn’t a good actor, couldn’t remember his lines, has an ugly wrinkly face.  A genuine Hollywood reject.  My friends, I won’t lie to you – I’m old and my face is wrinkled, but I can remember my lines.  Thank you!”
  • Romney against Giuliani: “An Eye-talian garlic-eater in the White House?  I should think not!
  • Romney against Huckabee: “Mike Huckabee isn’t tall enough or tan enough to be President of the United States of America.
  • Romney against McCain: “Senator McCain, a former US Navy officer, failed to report for duty every day from October 1967 until January 1973.”
  • Romney against Thompson: “On May 19th of 1972 Fred Thompson’s limosine ran over a puppy while transitting to pick Mr Thompson up at the airport.  It was a cute, brown and white puppy.  Is this the kind of conduct we expect from the President of the United States of America?” 
  • Thompson against Giuliani: “What…what law school…did the man attend?  Ah attended Vanderbilt.  The Yankee…he might could learn something…where’s my cue card?  He might could…learn something…from Vanderbilt Yewniversity. 
  • Thompson against Huckabee: “Ah grew up poorer than Mike Huckabee.  Ah can out-poor any of ’em.” (oops, he actually did say this!)
  • Thompson against McCain: “We have a saying here in the South, I learned it from Mike Huckabee – ‘If you cain’t fix it with duct tape and WD-40, boy, it cain’t be fixed.  That man is held together, Ah’m tellin you, by duct tape.  And he could shore use some WD-40.”
  • Thompson against Romney: “Say something bad about Romney?  No sir, I need him to stay in the race, to keep running negative ads about Huckabee!”

 Bonus Contest – you submit them, I’ll judge them:

  • Ron Paul against anyone: _________
  • Anyone against Ron Paul: _________

Here are my thoughts on the candidates’ performances in last night’s debate in New Hampshire:

Rudy Giuliani repeatedly underscores his history of public service, pointing out that he knows law enforcement and has been a successful chief executive.  Thank goodness he didn’t dwell on 9/11.  Rudy is a fantastic public speaker, but these debates aren’t great for him because he isn’t good extemporaneously.

Mike Huckabee starts out shaky, the words aren’t coming as easily as they usually do.  Makes points by citing the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of our country and our freedoms.  “Anytime you penalize productivity, it’s counterintuitive to an economy.”  Not exactly a revelation, but try to say it three times fast.  Why should we be energy independent?  Because “every time we swipe a credit card at a gas pump…” we’re supporting foreign terrorists.

John McCain put a dent in Romney by telling him “You can spend your entire fortune on attack ads, that won’t make your attacks true.”  Did well when asked for the philosophical underpinnings that will guide how he governs, recalling the oath he took when he arrived at the Naval Academy at age 17.  This answer accomplishes two things: first, it reminds people of his military service.  Secondly, it points out that almost his entire adult life has been spent as a public servant.  There are questions about McCain’s age, but tonight he seems very vital and it’s easy to forget he’s in his 70s.

Ron Paul may be right about returning to the gold standard – I’m no economist, but it doesn’t sound practical to me.  Paul says he thinks that young people support him because they’re excited about “sensible monetary policy.”  Hmmm.  He has passion, but he lacks the ability to express himself effectively.  And he still quacks.

Mitt Romney was more articulate in spurts, but also combative and obnoxious for extended periods.  Strangely, Romney at one point objected pointedly to criticism of pharmaceutical companies, “don’t make them the bad guys.”  This from a guy worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Made sour faces, even looked pretty pissed off at McCain and Huckabee.  It was bad form and in doing so he gave away the gains he was making.

Fred Thompson scores with his candid rejection of a “windfall tax” on oil companies.  He vociferously supports diversity in our energy sources, given the international political climate it’s smart to support this position as loudly as possible.  Thompson’s got to shake the “lazy” label, and did a much better job of looking alive tonight.  I think he helped himself more than any other candidate.

Exchange of the night:

Romney: “Don’t try to characterize my position…”

Huckabee: “Which one?”

(audience laughs as Romney glowers)

Big Winner:

Fred Thompson

Finishing order:

Fred Thompson

John McCain

Mike Huckabee

Mitt Romney

Rudy Giuliani

Ron Paul

Fred Thompson won’t win. His base is relatively small, though it is experienced and committed.  He can’t win, so when he drops out, the cultural conservatives who have been his base will flock to Huckabee – the only other candidate with equally polished conservative credentials.

Romney won’t win. It’s becoming more clear with greater familiarity that his greatest assets are his hair, his teeth, and his checking account.  All Mitt’s money hasn’t been enough to buy him love from the Republican rank and file.  His supporters are split between rich, Wall Street Republicans and cultural conservatives.  When it becomes clear that Romney can’t win, the cultural conservatives will support Huckabee, while the Wall Street fat cats will have no one else to support, so they’ll go down with the ship of Mitt.

Giuliani can’t win. He doesn’t have the necessary momentum or support in the important early states.  His personal life has been a drag on his campaign from day one, and now his health is in play.  When he drops out, the liberal Giuliani supporters who have heard that Huckabee is a liberal will switch their support to Huckabee.  (O, wicked and bitter irony!)

As you can see, it really comes down to McCain -vs- Huckabee. McCain has charisma and is a good, decent man with a stacked resume, but his day has passed. If elected to two terms, he’d be in his 80s before the end of his administration, and Americans won’t go for that. Not from a guy in his physical condition, with all the mental and emotional baggage that people assume (rightly or wrongly) that he carries from his time at the Hanoi Hilton.

That leaves one man standing: Huckabee.  And that brings up a question I’ve asked before: if and when he becomes the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 2008, will he be able to count on the support of the elites of the Republican party?

The purpose of this article is to sort out, as much as can be sorted at this point, which Republican candidates for president need wins in which states.  The opinions expressed here are based on circumstances as they exist on December 18, as well as on my own prejudices and preconceptions about each candidate.  I hope you enjoy reading.

Giuliani needs to win in Florida because he’s poured so much of his resources into it, and to prove that he’s capable of winning as a Republican.  He can’t afford to give away states because although he’s a formidable campaigner with a deep rolodex and a strong resume, when you get down to it there’s a very large segment of the Republican party that believes he’s not a good fit with their values, and they may be right.

Huckabee needs to win a “Yankee” state early on, to prove that he isn’t strictly a Southern phenomenon. That means Iowa or Michigan. Either one would satisfy this requirement. To win both, obviously, would be best – despite his current strength Huckabee is still lacking in cash and organization. The asset which his campaign has the most of is momentum, and he’ll need all he can get.

McCain needs a win anywhere. His best chance is probably in New Hampshire, where he’s popular and very well known. But NHers might not want to invest their votes in him again, after what happened following his win there in 2000. McCain is also popular in his home state of Arizona, but Arizona isn’t a sought-after prize. Besides, a win there would easily be chalked up to homerism by McCain’s opponents, and probably by the mainstream media.

Romney needs to win somewhere other than New Hampshire. Right now it looks like his best bet is Michigan, since he was born there and his dad was a big shot in the auto industry there, as well as Governor from 1962 until 1969. Aside from New Hampshire, Michigan is where Romney is strongest: he’s currently tied with Huckabee for first place there.  In an effort to salvage his enormous investment in his campaign, Romney has turned heavily to negative tactics, a strategy which could hurt the Republican party even as it fails to help the Romney campaign.

Thompson desperately needs South Carolina to love him. He’s pinned his hopes on taking the conservative vote, the Southern vote, and the Law and Order vote (if it exists). But Huckabee is the darling of the religious right and is trouncing him in almost every southern state so far. The Law and Order vote has yet to materialize.  Like Romney, Thompson has turned to negative campaigning, with the same risks that dog Romney’s campaign.

The also-rans…

Ron Paul, like McCain, needs a win anywhere. He may have a chance in a very small state with a large independent contingent and a love for mavericks. That could be New Hampshire, which would be a great win, and Vermont, which hardly anyone cares about. Minnesota has a history of going that way too, but Minnesota isn’t a big state population-wise and isn’t an early-voting state, either. The smart money says that Paul doesn’t win anywhere, but may not be wise to discount his chances totally, given his enormous bankroll and the unusual fervor of his supporters.

Duncan Hunter has virtually no chance of winning anywhere, so his campaign has made a shrewd decision to concentrate most of his resources in Nevada. Whether it works has yet to be determined, but even if it does work, it’s unlikely to make an impact anywhere else.

Tom Tancredo, although he usually polls higher than Hunter, probably has even less chance of winning. Tancredo isn’t only a single issue candidate (immigration), he’s a single issue candidate with a shrill message and almost no strategy.

Alan Keyes is a persuasive and inspirational speaker when he’s on his game, but he’s off his game most of the time these days. His rhetoric is infused with too much anger, and his daughter’s resentment and much-publicized lesbianism is an embarrassment. It hurts me to say this, having been a Keyes supporter in ’96 and ’00, but Keyes is probably the guy who could never win anywhere, even if the rest of the candidates perished in a plane crash together.

In light of the odd debate formats and less-than-stellar results we’ve been seeing on the Republican side of this election cycle’s presidential nomination contest, I’ve been thinking about what a perfect debate would look like.

I didn’t like the gimmickry of the CNN/Youtube debate, debates held by specific ethnic or advocacy groups lead to pandering, and Wednesday’s Des Moines Register debate seems to have left everyone cold.

Some people are getting sentimental for an old fashioned Lincoln-Douglas style debate, but not me.  Right now there are too many candidates for a debate in that format.  If nine guys each get two ten minute slots, you’re already at three hours.  Imagine if they each spoke for 45 minutes!  And aside from all that, I’m not sure I could handle 45 minutes from any one candidate right now.

This evening I’ve been brainstorming for a set of rules that might lead to an interesting and illuminating debate, and here are a few ideas that make sense to me.

  1. Trim the roster – there are too many candidates right now for any format to work.  There are a few guys you could lose very easily and few voters would shed a tear.  Hunter, Keyes, and Tancredo are no-hopers, and Ron Paul is barely even a Republican.  He has a bunch of money but he’s never broken 10% in any poll, and he’s going to bolt the party pretty soon anyway.  We’re now down to five candidates.
  2. Do away with the canned questions from pundits and the cutesy questions from the public – the questions should be submitted by the candidates themselves.  Ground rules include: candidates can’t submit questions for themselves/can’t be asked questions that they submitted, questions much be issues-oriented (not personal or personality-oriented), questions must be less than 250 words long, each question must either be asked only once (of one candidate) or must be asked of every candidate in attendance.
  3. Candidates should be allotted five minutes speaking time to answer each question asked of them.  If one candidate says something provocative or negative about another candidate, the other candidate gets a full five minutes to rebut.
  4. No notes are permitted and no podium or lecturn is to be provided.  The candidates will each have only a microphone stand and a chair to sit in between questions.
  5. The debate is to be free of admission, and no tickets will be allotted or distributed to the campaigns.  Seating is first-come, first-served.  This will keep candidates from packing the audience.
  6. The debate will be conducted without commercial breaks and may only be broadcast in its entirety.
  7. Each candidate will be asked the same number of questions, so if anyone fails to get equal face time it’s only because his answers were shorter.

Too many candidates!

What do you think of these rules?  Can you think of any other that you would add?  Reasons to lose any of these seven?  What improvements or innovations would you introduce?

We’re all amazed this morning to learn that Mike Huckabee has drawn even with Rudy Giuliani (18% each) in Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll.  The others – McCain, Thompson, and Romney – are all hovering in the low to mid teens, essentially in a three-way tie.  Huckabee’s performance defies the conventional wisdom, which holds that an obscure former governor of a small Southern state has no chance of hanging in with, much less defeating, the party bigwigs.  He has no money, no organization, and most importantly, no permission from the Republican elites.

But there’s a precedent.  Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter both fit the same mold.  Pouty supporters of the other Republicans probably won’t like the comparison, but the similarities are genuine.

The question about Huckabee has now morphed from “can he?” to “by how much?”!  There’s no reason that a conservative with an evangelical background, exceptional oratorical skills, and an engaging personality should settle for squeaking by.  The trend is clear: the base is beginning to come to Huckabee.  The next question will probably be of a very different nature: If Huckabee is the choice of the Republican Party at large, can he expect the enthusiastic support of the party elites?