12.27.2007

Giuliani gets down to essentials: Florida and September 11th

For months, Rudy Giuliani pretended that his primary strategy was somehow national and that he was the candidate who could compete in every states. Of course, it was painfully obvious to all that Giuliani was not even trying anymore in Iowa and that he was unable to move his numbers in New Hampshire in any meaningful way.

And Giuliani was also often critisized of exploiting the September 11th attacks and running exclusively on his New York record around that day. Remember the controversy over the fundraiser that asked participants to donate $9.11, or Joe Biden's line at the Philadelphia debate: "There are only three things he makes in a sentence... A noun and a verb and 9/11."

Now that the Giuliani campaign crisis, there is no more place for pretense and all the flourishing is gone from Rudy's strategy. We are down two essentials: Florida and 9-11.

Giuliani's campaign had already scaled back advertisements in New Hampshire about two weeks ago, but it is now pretty much entirely going dark in the Granite State -- especially in the Boston market (he is spending 6 times less than McCain overall in the state, and 7 times less than Romney). The primary where Giuliani long appeared to have a shot has now been abandoned, and ceded to McCain -- a dangerous move given McCain's new-position of favorite for the nomination.

And Giuliani is now spending most of his time in Florida, the state that he has long regarded as his firewall, the place that he will win no matter what happens in the early states. It is obvious just how risky this strategy is. For one, Giuliani is dependent on what otehr candidates do to make sure they don't gather to much momentum. And the man has already lost his lead in Florida polls, with Huckabee contesting his first place and Romney looking close behind. Would either candidate not overtake him with early wins?

The difficulty of this exercise was obvious 10 days ago when Giuliani gave a speech in Florida that he deemed a major relaunch -- but no one covered it given that everyone is focused on Iowa and New Hampshire at the present. And with Giuliani spending so much time in Florida, he will be out of the spotlight for a long time.

And it's in this context that GIuliani unveiled his latest ad, "Freedom." (Watch it here). This ad will be shown primarily in Florida, and it is focused exclusively on September 11th -- mentioned in hte very first sentence. Giuliani explains that what he saw that day in New York was comparable to the Greatest Generation and that the strength of America is that the country comes together to fight terrorists and "Islamofascists" when they want to take away America's freedom. Excerpt:

When you try and take something away from us like freedom, my goodness, Americans are going to be one in resisting you.
So, the Islamic terrorists would make a terrible mistake if they confuse our democracy for weakness. Our democracy means we disagree with each other, but when you come and try and take away from us our freedom.
When you try and come here and kill our people. We’re one and we’re going to stand up to you and we’re going to prevail.

Giuliani has no more room to flourish here, and he is trying to boost his support in Florida using his national security credentials and his reputation as America's Mayor who will keep the country safe. The FL strategy already appears weak -- but is the 9-11 move much stronger? Giuliani has already done so much on it and he benefited pretty much as much as he would. Clearly, the GOP base understands his 9-11 history but wants to see something more, something that Giuliani is not giving them which is what made them switch over to other candidates this fall in the first place.

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