12.23.2007

Media suddenly discovers the flaws of Giuliani's strategy

The press has apparently and finally decided to cover the fact that Rudy Giuliani's late state strategy was political insanity. With 10 days to Iowa, the New York Times prints a front pager today recounting the troubles of the Giuliani campaign and explaining how much Giuliani's decision of skipping the early states is hurting him -- especially as he is now left completely out of the media spotlight as everyone is covering Iowa, a state he conceded months ago.

It has been months that I have been skeptical of Giuliani's strategy and had trouble understanding why he was consistently ranked first in GOP rankings when he was unlikely to get any victory for the first 26 days of voting, until January. So I'm glad everyone else is now catching on.

But it is striking that Giuliani's strategy is being deemed a failure just as there is a small opening for it to work.

For months, Rudy's problem was that Romney looked unbeatable in Iowa and New Hampshire -- and with that he looked set to sweep his way through states like Michigan and even perhaps South Carolina. It was then really hard to understand how in the world Giuliani was hoping to contain Romney's momentum by January 29th or February 5th, even in states like California and New York.

Now at least, Romney's on the verge of being eliminated as he is led in Iowa by Huckabee and forced in a tie in New Hampshire with John McCain. If Romney is out on January 9th with Huckabee and McCain the early victors, how big a door would that be for Giuliani to sneak back in this thing? Huck and McCain would fight it out in Michigan and South Carolina and the race would remain completetly muddied all the way to Florida -- allowing Giuliani to at least be competitive.

This does not mean that Giuliani's strategy was in any way sound. His campaign liked to argue that he has momentum-proof leads in the later states, but it is now clear that his big state strategy is in shambles with his numbers collapsing accross the board. This means that even with a muddied race, Giuliani is not sure of getting Florida or California at all anymore; not to mention that he has been out of the spotlight and is likely to continue not being covered for a while.

At least with the rise of Huck and McCain, the race would become a three-way brawl instead of a one-man sweep and allow Rudy to fight it out. Which is why it's bad for him that the media is jumping on the "Rudy's strategy is dumb" bandwagon just when it is starting to have a chanc. The press is now only covering story-lines relating to his stay at the hospital, his trips to the Hampton or whether he wants to win this at all. Giuliani's hospital stay especially has dominated this week's news cycle; and while candidates' health is important, there doesn't seem to be enough here to merit obsessive coverage.

After glowing with praise for month and without anything in Giuliani's strategy really changing, the media has now decided they don't think Rudy is working at it hard enough and are releasing a barrage of stories to prove it. And given that Giuliani needs the media more than any other candidate since he will not be involved in any actual news-making in Iowa and new Hampshire, this could very well make him sink.

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