Floridians awake today knowing that they (sort of) hold the fate of the world in their hands. With the state's electoral track record, that's kind of scary. It's neck and neck between McCain and Romney up front; much further behind, Giuliani and Huckabee are also … necking. The former pair are desperately grappling; the latter, probably praying. (Okay, not Giuliani.) Which way is the wind blowing this morning, and whom does it favor?
Rudy Giuliani has finally cracked and recognized that today's Florida results could possibly signal the end of his campaign. Asked whether he would drop out after a loss today, the former mayor told reporters yesterday: "When it's Wednesday morning, we'll make the decision." Since much of the press has already decided that Giuliani is dead in the water, speculation has turned to how he will drop out, and when. He'll definitely participate in tomorrow's Republican debate, but sources for the New York Sun argue that he won't risk a major loss in New York State next Tuesday. If it's proven that he's not even popular in his home state anymore, where he made his name, it would be a blow to his reputation, would be bad for his business, Giuliani Partners, and would undermine his candidacy for a Cabinet position in the future. It's all about the Giuliani brand name, which has made him millions as a speaker and as a consultant. As Maureen Dowd pointed out on Sunday, he's not even likely to put up a tough fight on the way out, in order to preserve the purchase power of his name. He'll likely last a few extra days, like Fred Thompson did after losing big in South Carolina, and then bow out quietly without drama. To think, it was less than eight years ago that he dropped out of the New York Senate race after battling a tidal wave of negative press after his high-profile split from Donna Hanover. And critics said Giuliani couldn't change.
RUDY HINTS FLA. HIS LAST STAND [NYP]
Last night’s Republican debate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was about as feisty as knitting lessons at the community center. It was as if the candidates, who mostly avoided attacks, were tired from the heat. Many observers handed Romney the victory for his smooth answers on the economy; McCain also did well. But Giuliani and Huckabee, while they didn’t do poorly, didn’t do much to break out of their second-tier positions in Florida. For those who missed it, we sifted the platitudes for the stuff that really matters.
Okay, so there was a debate last night. All of the Republican presidential candidates got together to chat about whom people should choose in the voting booth (we'll have details for you later). But, see, you might not hear much about it because it didn't really matter. Why not? Because the Times bogarted all of the primary discussion this morning with their unsurprisingly self-righteous endorsements. For the Democrats, they chose Hillary Clinton because they "are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience." (Don't worry, though, they totally heart Obama, too.) And for the Republicans, they begrudgingly chose John McCain. Except it wasn't so much an editorial supporting McCain as it was one attempting, once and for all, to obliterate Rudy Giuliani.
Hey, everybody! There's an update in New York's patented 2008 Electopedia. In our exhaustive look at New York's presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, we've already compared the two in categories ranging from "First Love" to "Relationship With Offspring." Today's matchup is "Best Debate Smackdown." Think you know when Giuliani's elbow (or Hillary's voice) was at its sharpest? Click through to read all about it.
Best Debate Smackdown [Electopedia]
The 2008 Electopedia [Main Page]
Tonight’s Republican debate in Florida could tip voters one way or another in what is basically a four-way race (though the latest polls show McCain and Romney, about even, putting distance between themselves and Giuliani and Huckabee, also about even). With recession looming, everyone wants to know who's going to perform a miracle on the economy once in office. The pundits, for their part, have humbly offered up their opinions on the candidates with the best fiscal credentials.
Employing "Neg Theory" — insulting a woman in order to pique her romantic interest, as defined by the book The Game and the show The Pickup Artist — may work to pick up chicks, but does it work on states? Conventional wisdom would have that the Giuliani campaign's decision to "neg" the early-primary states, opting out of campaigning in them in favor of wooing larger, delegate-rich states, was what caused his numbers to drop in polls nationwide. He would have done better there, people reasoned, had he, you know, tried. But today's Wall Street Journal uses market data to analyze how Giuliani went from certain front-runner to "the biggest loser among the mainstream candidates" and finds that Giuliani's recent decline is due less to his strategy than his "poor campaign." In other words, the problem was not his game, but his personality. "Unfortunately for Mr. Giuliani," the Journal concludes, "a candidate who is unpopular in both the early-voting small states and later-voting big states, just can't win." No medallions for him, either.
How Rudy's Bet Went Wrong [WSJ]
As the primary season approaches its climax, each voter is faced with a choice: Is it better to back a candidate based upon the opportunistic ramblings of cable-news talking heads or the endorsement of the voter’s favorite actor? Folks who filter their beliefs through those of a television or movie personality risk surrendering their stake in actual issues. Then again, they’re secure in the knowledge that they’re for the same guy as the Fresh Prince. Who are these actors, and how might they help — or potentially destroy — the campaigns that are so carefully conducted by their buddies? Glad you asked! —Dan Amira
New York Giant Osi Umenyiora, who is dating Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks, says he's a difficult guy to love because he has "abandonment issues." Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy, was arrested for doing 39 mph in a 30 mph zone in Florida. An upcoming reality show on the Mojo Channel forces a handful of semi-prominent New Yorkers to survive without their cell phones and computers. Julia Stiles sat down and ordered a bunch of food at Indochine but requested that it all be doggy-bagged so she could take it home. CNN has been getting better daytime ratings than MSNBC over the past two months, though Fox News still does better than both. Georgina Chapman on fashion: "I'm like a magpie. I like anything that sparkles."
So last night, John McCain waltzed into New York, picked up $1 million for his presidential campaign, and waltzed right back out again. How could he be so bold as to infringe on his party mate Rudy Giuliani's turf? “It’s the Willie Sutton syndrome,” he said at a press conference in Florida, referring to the bank robber of the thirties. “They asked him why he robbed banks, and he said it’s because that’s where the money is.” His timing was certainly good. Results of a Quinnipiac University poll yesterday showed that among New York Republicans, Giuliani, who last month surpassed McCain, is now neck and neck with the Arizona senator. And another poll released yesterday reported that McCain actually has a slim lead over the former New York mayor, whose numbers have been dropping, in part owing to dwindling finances — his staff has been going unpaid this month to save money. "I don't believe Republicans should be attacking each other," Rudes told a crowd in Palm Beach yesterday, right around the time that McCain, up north, was rummaging through his pockets. Poor Caesar!
New York Is All McCain's, For a Night [NYT]
The presidential campaign of Fred Dalton Thompson has surely been among the most puzzling curios of this year’s Republican race. Maddeningly long in gestation, then apparently stillborn, it has been an effort so laconic, even lazy, that its slogan might as well have been: Thompson 2008 – As if It Mattered.
Before he became the mayor of America, Rudy Giuliani was the dark, petty, vindictive, small-minded, and possibly racist mayor of New York, GQ reminds us in their February issue's "Oral History of Giuliani's Temper," in which mostly the usual suspects (Ed Koch, Al Sharpton, Jerry Hauer) share stories of tangling with Rudy at his well, rudest. "He has this streak, Rudy, where he looks for unnecessary confrontations," retired NYPD chief Louis Anemone says. "Is he overcompensating? I sure as hell don’t know. But I worked with men, I worked with real men, and they didn’t have to do that." Ouch. With Giuliani melting in the polls lately, the takedown doesn't seem as urgent as it must have however many months ago they conceived of it, and there's not a lot of new stuff, but it is a nice little walk down memory lane. All of the great incidents are here: Amadou Diallo, Giuliani's role in the 1992 police riots, the scandal with the Brooklyn Museum, Abner Louima. Basically, it's like a big, juicy gossip sesh, made all the more fun for the fact that Giuliani is probably pretty steamed up about it, since, as lawyer Marcia Paul puts it, "one wonders more than anything else whether the man has a sense of humor."
• Sam Zell, the real-estate tycoon turned media mogul, took his brusque, fake-folksy style to his minions at the Tribune with a new employee manual. A few samples: "7.1. If you use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated. … Coming to work drunk is bad judgment. 7.2. If you do not use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated." Also, "You may want to think twice before you enter into an intimate relationship with a co-worker. When you start, it might seem like a good idea. It’s when you stop, or the wrong people find out (and they will) that you could discover that perhaps it wasn’t." [WP, Tribune]
• Judith Regan on Giuliani: "Is he getting uglier? Is his face looking more twisted? What happened to him?" Don't feel too bad, Rudy. You know what they say: When someone teases you like this, it means she likes you. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Facebook threatened to revoke Nick Denton's account after the blog-lord posted pics of Steve Brill's recent-college-grad daughter Emily. [Gawker, Daily Brief/Portfolio]
Today the Times plays the delegate game with Rudy Giuliani. “If he carries Florida, he carries New York,” historian and sometime Giuliani adviser Fred Siegel told the paper. That logic has a victory in Florida giving the former mayor the additional 183 delegates from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (though it blatantly disregards how this race has proven that one primary can have little or no influence on the next). That would give Giuliani 15 percent of the delegates he needs (not counting Florida's 57). It's a boost that would not be insignificant, but the paper also reports that even Giuliani's staunch supporters in the Northeast are worried, and that McCain is edging ahead in New Jersey. (And, hilariously, the Associated Press has taken to calling his Florida campaign a "Hail Mary.") But as more and more news outlets are revving up their Giuliani Campaign Deathwatches, it's almost as if they, too, forget the lessons we've learned. Sure, all looks bad for him right now, but it did for McCain in late 2007, and it did for Hillary just before New Hampshire. No one can predict what's going to happen, not even those goddamned delegates.
Even at Home, Backers Worry About Giuliani [NYT]
Earlier:In 2008 Primary Race, Delegates Take the Lead, Heilemann on Michigan's Republican Goat Rodeo: Is Rudy a Mad Genius After All?
There are three obvious ways to interpret Mitt Romney's victory in the Republican primary in Michigan. The first is that Romney — whose father, George, was a three-term governor of the state — won on the basis of his favorite-son status, nothing more and nothing less. The second is that Romney, whose campaign for the past year has been an object lesson in the dangers of absolute and abject artifice in national politics, finally, to steal a phrase from Hillary Clinton, found his own voice: the voice of pragmatic, problem-solving managerialism. And the third is that the GOP nominating contest has become a full-fledged goat rodeo: On any given day, any given candidate might just emerge (temporarily) triumphant.
Now that yesterday's poll numbers on Giuliani in Florida have sunk in, campaign staffers and political analysts (those that can stand to take a break from dissecting Hillary and Obama's race kerfuffle) are trying to figure out whether this means the end for the former New York mayor. Yesterday, the Times reported that one of their polls showed McCain edging ahead of Giuliani by a small amount in the southern swing state, where Giuliani has been concentrating all of his campaign efforts. Huckabee and Romney were a mere percentage point behind, putting all four within the same margin of error for the poll. Now, with the arrival of the Michigan primary (Giuliani's first real chance at a strong finish, some are taking a hard look at his future prospects:
• Today Giuliani's chief strategist Brent Seaborn saw a bright side in not being part of the brutal Huckabee-Romney-McCain battle in early primary states: "I think we’ve been in the fortunate position that a lot of attacks haven’t been directed our way.” Giuliani may remain remarkably unscathed late into the race, which will be a surprise boon for a candidate with many potential negatives.
• But Matthew Continetti in the Weekly Standardpoints out that Hillary's recent stumbles against Barack Obama may have taken the wind out of Giuliani's campaign, which early on was partially based on his unique ability to take down the Clinton machine in a general election.
• And Joel Achenbach adds that when Super Tuesday comes around, previous voting numbers are going to become irrelevant in the face of delegate accumulation. Giuliani has always been aiming for delegates, not total state wins, and this strategy may serve him well on February 5.
• Finally, Talking Points Memo reads the Romney-McCain-Giuliani tea leaves and declares that the question isn't whether it's judgment day for Giuliani, but whether it's high noon for Mitt.
While the press has been running ragged up in New Hampshire, we set journalist Peter Keating to work watching the candidates to see which ones were putting in the most effort. Contrary to what the 24-hour news cycle would have you believe, some of them sleep. Some of them skip events. And some of them, well, aren't really trying. Later tonight, we'll bring you the results of all the hard work. For now, Keating's report from the campaign trail begins in a predictable place:
"Mayor Rudy Giuliani's Visit Here Today At 4:30pm Has Been Cancelled," reads a sign hanging in the window at John's Barber Shop, an old-school establishment nestled among the charming shops on Daniel Street in Portsmouth, N.H.
Of course it's been canceled. Rudy had better things to do this afternoon than to keep grubbing for votes in a state where he's been vying to keep pace with Duncan Hunter in the polls.
We woke up this morning and turned on the TV to find uncle-cute Matt Lauer interviewing dad-cute John Edwards on the Today show. It was a short interview, but long enough for Edwards to get across his main point: "Senators Obama and Clinton have over $100 million in their campaign chests," he told Matt. "I am the underdog in this race, just like the middle class in America." Bam! It was time, we realized, for every candidate to give his or her last word to New Hampshire voters (and no, the 11.5 voters in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, who "elected" Obama and McCain last night are not the final word). So what did they go with this time?
Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor began stumping around the state in front of a huge sign that said "WASHINGTON IS BROKEN." It's apparently his new motto ("Fix" is the new "Change!"). He also created a giant list of fifteen presidential to-dos that were supplied by New Hampshire residents he spoke to. He's literally asking voters to write his platform, people. The list included things like "Make America Safer," "End Illegal Immigration," "Cut the Pork," and "Strengthen Our Families." Nos. 14 and 15 on the list were empty because nobody told him what to put there. So populist, so budget. [National Review]
CNBC business anchor Erin Burnett dreams of men spending copious amounts of dough on her. Gus Wenner, son of Rolling Stone honcho Jann Wenner, was accepted early decision to Brown, and Jack Byrne, son of Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne, was accepted to Bard. Jimmy Fallon and new wife Nancy Juvonen ate at Pastis. An upcoming "oral history" of Rudy Giuliani chronicles the former mayor's "petty, vindictive, small-minded maneuvering." Jay-Z says he is not concerned with the problematic rumors surrounding the opening of his new 40/40 club. Mary-Louise Parker and boyfriend Jeffrey Dean Morgan had coffee at Local on Sullivan Street.
As the first arctic blast of January weather whipped through town last week, the city was chilled by news that Iowans had frozen out New York’s candidates for the White House. Hillary Clinton’s last-minute plea on the first post-hibernation Letterman show —starring Dave’s new reindeer-wrangler beard—failed to help her, and she finished behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani finished sixth behind Mike Huckabee but had left Iowa five days before the caucus anyway. Dark horse Michael Bloomberg denied that there was any significance in his attendance at a caucus of potential third-party candidates, though he took pokes at the front-runners’ lack of ideas. Fourth-place finisher Fred Thompson, who’s probably wishing he’d never quit as New York’s fictional D.A., lost his old Law & Order job to Sam Waterston.