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And They’re Off...

Rudy’s Crowd-Pleaser Starts The 2008 Race. It May Also Be The High Point of His Career.

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W
ith President Bush forgoing a visit to ground zero, it was Rudolph Giuliani’s job to pick up the bullhorn on Monday night and remind the country of the Republicans’ trump card: W.’s response to 9/11.

And Rudy delivered. After a giddy start, he moved from a righteous recollection of the terrorist attacks to a comparison of Bush to Churchill. His own anti-terrorism bona fides unassailable, he lit into John Kerry with a mocking, crowd-hugging stem-winder. The delegates loved it.

Still, in spite of Giuliani’s new taste for red meat, America’s Mayor has proved himself the rare politician who transcends ideology. Republicans of all stripes, as well as many independents and Democrats, see him as a strong leader. Insiders say that Giuliani has concluded—correctly—that he doesn’t need to run for governor or senator in 2006; Americans already see him as qualified for the job he really wants: the presidency. It’s a heady moment that Giuliani ought to enjoy. There’s nowhere to go but down.

Giuliani fails key Republican litmus tests spectacularly: He’s pro–gay rights, pro–gun control, and pro-choice (even opposing a partial-birth abortion ban). Conventioneers dig him as an attack dog, maybe as a Homeland Security chief—but not as a potential president. “I think 90 percent of the delegates are in that group,” says the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly. “You’ve got abortion, you’ve got gay rights, you’ve got his own immoral behavior, and you’ve got the fact that he’s from New York.” (Being from New York is still a black mark for Republicans? “I’m afraid so,” she says. “We are enjoying the convention.”)

Giuliani crisscrossed the country in 2002, campaigning for right-wing senatorial and gubernatorial candidates in an attempt to build credibility with the GOP Establishment. But he served as a lightning rod even then. In South Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Alex Sanders charged, “He’s an ultraliberal. His wife kicked him out, and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values?”

Now social conservatives are mobilizing to block Giuliani’s further advance. “People will find out about Giuliani’s lack of respect for human life,” says National Coalition for Life’s Colleen Parro. “He is simply not going to survive a Republican primary.”

“We don’t know what other issues will come up in the next four years, but cultural issues aren’t going away,” says pollster Terry Madonna. “They’re endemic.” Ask Pete Wilson, Arlen Specter, or John McCain—the Republican nominating electorate doesn’t reward apostasy.

Giuliani is just one of a dozen Republicans who might make a bid for the presidency in 2008; he followed a likely opponent who gave a very different (and effective) campaign-launching speech. Here’s our lowdown on the rest of that field.

You already know that John McCain is for campaign finance reform and Jeb is the “smarter” Bush brother, so we’ve dug deeper for facts like where Chuck Hagel went to technical school. One note: The “Google Meter” figure for each candidate is the number you get when you type a candidate’s name into that search engine along with the phrase “run, president, and 2008.” For purposes of comparison, Hillary Clinton scored 9,650 on the meter.

We didn’t include two highly popular politicos for the simple reason that there’s no chance either one will soon be the Republican nominee. Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger would need a constitutional amendment to run for president. And Colin Powell’s wife still won’t let him run.


Gov. Jeb Bush (FL)
Age: 51.
Religion: Catholic.
Education: B.A. in Latin American studies, University of Texas (1974).
Fact: When The Late Show With David Letterman listed the “Top 10 Little-Known Facts About Jeb Bush,” No. 9 was “Turn-ons: long walks, romantic dinners, and rigging elections for his brother.”
Fact No. 2: No. 7 was “He and his brothers get chicks by going to bars and saying they’re the Baldwins.”
Google Meter: 3,570.
Momentum: Down; the dynasty issue is emerging as a problem.


Sen. Bill Frist (TN)
Age: 52.
Religion: Presbyterian.
Education: B.A., Princeton University (1974); Harvard Medical School (1978).
Fact: As a medical student, he would bring cats home from animal shelters and dissect them.
Google Meter: 2,190.
Momentum: Down; being a Senate majority leader has made him wonkish and reluctant to take clear positions on popular issues.


Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE)
Age: 57.
Religion: Episcopalian.
Education: Attended Brown Institute for Radio and Television (1966); B.A., University of Nebraska at Omaha (1971).
Fact: He enlisted in the Army in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, and served in the same unit as his brother Tom, whom he once pulled from an exploding vehicle.
Google Meter: 703.
Momentum: Up, but as a McCain Republican he won’t truly emerge until McCain’s own presidential fate is settled.


Sen. John McCain (AZ)
Age: 68.
Religion: Episcopalian.
Education: B.S., U.S. Naval Academy (1958); National War College (1973–74).
Fact: As a POW in North Vietnam, he wasn’t allowed to read or watch news; he found out about the moon landing when his captors broadcast an antiwar speech in which the speaker said, “If the U.S. can put a man on the moon, surely we can get out of Vietnam!”
Google Meter: 6,250.
Momentum: Up, up, and away.


Gov. Bill Owens (CO)
Age: 53.
Religion: Catholic.
Education: B.S., Stephen F. Austin State (1973); M.P.A., Lyndon B. Johnson School, University of Texas (1975).
Fact: In 2002, he played his favorite CD for the National Review; it was the former Soviet Union’s national anthem. “What’s fun is to think that we beat these bastards,” he said.
Google Meter: 836.
Momentum: Starting to accelerate; he’s popular, effective, and a darling of the intellectual right.


Gov. George Pataki (NY)
Age: 59.
Religion: Catholic.
Education: B.A., Yale University (1967); Columbia Law School (1970).
Fact: The ultimate GOP loyalist, he traveled to Florida to support George W. Bush while the 2000 recount was still in doubt.
Fact No. 2: His middle name is Elmer. Google meter: 946.
Momentum: Up, but an awful lot depends on how well he introduces himself to a national audience on Thursday night.


Gov. Mitt Romney (MA)
Age: 57.
Religion: Mormon.
Education: B.A., Brigham Young University (1971); Harvard Law School (1975); M.B.A., Harvard Business School (1975).
Fact: In 2002, he ran campaign ads showing him bare-chested at the beach.
Fact No. 2: His real first name is Willard.
Google Meter: 857.
Momentum: Flat; organizing the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics means about as much to Republican voters as being governor of Massachusetts.


Sen. Rick Santorum (PA)
Age: 46.
Religion: Catholic.
Education: B.A. in political science, Pennsylvania State University (1980); M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh (1981); Dickinson Law School (1986).
Fact: Last year, he ticked off a list of things outside his definition of marriage, including gay sex as well as “man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”
Google Meter: 566.
Momentum: Way up; just ask him!


Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO)
Age: 59.
Religion: Presbyterian.
Education: B.A. in political science, University of Northern Colorado (1968).
Fact: He criticized the Bush administration’s immigration policy so harshly that Karl Rove called him in 2002 and told him “never to darken the door of the White House again.”
Google Meter: 303.
Momentum: Doesn’t matter; he can run if he wants and stay in as long as he likes, because he’ll be a favorite of the Buchananite right.


Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft
Age: 62.
Religion: Assembly of God.
Education: B.A., Yale University (1964); University of Chicago Law School (1967).
Fact: He ran for president for like five minutes in 2000.
Fact No. 2: One of the A.G.’s lesser-known initiatives was Operation Pipe Dreams, a crackdown on bongs sold via the Internet. google meter: 3,180.
Momentum: Zero; the last time Ashcroft ran for office, he lost to a dead man.


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