His businesses include a law firm, a security consultancy, a lucrative motivational speaking practice and an investment bank that he's planning to sell. But his political operation is thin. Giuliani has no employees who have worked in the senior ranks of a presidential campaign, though he tried and failed to hire former GOP chairman Ken Mehlman, Republican sources said.But lately, he seems to be making more noises that sound like a candidate. He's showing up in New Hampshire and fund-raising events are being scheduled. And current polls should continue to give him comfort. Polls today are mostly name recognition, but name recognition often is the trump card in politics. It brings in early favorable poll numbers which brings press attention and money, thus creating a virtuous cycle that leads to more nice poll numbers.
He has hardly made a dent in the early primary states and is badly lagging behind Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in doing the critical spadework of reaching out to the key activists and operatives needed to win in places like Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
"He hasn't called," said Rick Beltram, GOP chairman of the upstate county that is a must-win for any Republican primary hopeful. By contrast, Beltram -- who has not endorsed in the race -- said he and Romney are on a first-name basis and that Romney and McCain have been to the county multiple times in recent years.
That failure to build a national organization echoes 2000, in which Giuliani paid little attention to Upstate New York and ditched appearances in Rochester and Buffalo for a Yankees game. "He couldn't put together a statewide campaign in New York," scoffed on Democratic strategist active in the 2000 race. "Why would anyone think he could do so in the entire country?"
There is still speculation that Giuliani couldn't win a Republican nomination because of his positions on abortion, gay rights, and gun control. Well, the two other main candidates for the nomination right now also have shaky support among conservatives. And Steve Malanga has a detailed look at Giuliani's conservative credentials from his time as mayor of New York. His article is definitely worth reading as points to Giuliani's approach to government and his expectations that citizens have civic responsibilities. Giuliani targeted welfare, crime, affirmative action, high taxes, and the education bureaucracy. For many conservatives, those issues are more salient than abortion and gay rights. As Malanga points out,
But in a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative’s priorities: government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector’s way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives. “Over the last century, millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City,” Giuliani once observed. “They didn’t come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves.” It was that spirit of opportunity and can-do-ism that Giuliani tried to re-instill in New York and that he himself exemplified not only in the hours and weeks after 9/11 but in his heroic and successful effort to bring a dying city back to life.Read the rest of the article for more background on how Giuliani operated as mayor. There are still a lot of question marks about his personal life and messy divorce as well as what he as been doing in the private sector since he left office. Just as Malanga can draw a rosy picture of his time as mayor, there will still be lots of stories that don't paint him so favorably. He made plenty of enemies in his time as mayor.
For conservatives, one of strongest credentials may be his history of persevering despite constant criticism from the New York Times, evidence that will please conservatives that his main rival, John McCain, doesn't quite have yet.