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.
Every single political candidate, at some point in this primary season, has talked earnestly about change. It's a standard part of political rhetoric, harping upon the populace's general mistrust for whatever current government has lately been in power. Even Hillary Clinton, with her recent-president husband over her shoulder, talks frequently about "shaking up Washington" and "making a difference." But while nobody was looking, it seems like Iowa voters were finally listening. Last night they made a push to challenge political assumptions and long-accepted truths about money and Establishment. When Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama rocketed to decisive visits in the caucuses, the conventional wisdom was that, well, conventional wisdom itself had been shaken up. At least, that's what the press thinks. Take a look at today's headlines:
The Status Quo Lost, and Change Won [The Nation]
Two Newcomers Jolt Parties' Status Quo [NYT]
Establishment Gets a Jolt [Seattle Times]
Amiable candidates Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee have been projected the winners of the Democratic and Republican Iowa caucuses, respectively. The Associated Press, ABC News, Fox News, the New York Times, and many other outlets have already called the competition, the first in the long presidential primary season ahead of us. On the Democratic side, New York Senator Hillary Clinton is vying closely with John Edwards for second place. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who never made much of an effort in Iowa, trails behind several other candidates in the Republican race, including first runner-up Mitt Romney. Now go to bed and get some rest. Haven't you been reading blogs enough for one day?
Obama, Huckabee Victorious in New Hampshire [AP]
"Everyone says Giuliani was great on 9/11," said Chris Rock during his show at MSG on New Year's Eve. "What about on 9/10?" Joshua Jackson refused to let anyone sit with him and girlfriend Diane Kruger at the Soho Grand's New Year's Eve party. ABC anchor Bob Woodruff has made a full recovery from his Iraq injuries and recently went skiing. Eddie Murphy's ex-wife Nicole Murphy hung out at the Plumm with New York Giant Michael Strahan while Murphy was getting ready to marry Tracey Edmonds on an island in the South Pacific. Britney Spears's latest team of lawyers dumped her after a "breakdown in communication."
Officials have stopped making public their counts of the revelers who pour into Times Square every New Year's Eve, the Times tells us this morning. “Whatever the count was, it was usually never enough for whatever group was involved," a Police Department spokesperson told the paper wearily. So they just gave up. Generally, it seems that over the years, the crowd hovered between 300,000 and 600,000, except for back when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. Then, it seems, the city was so safe and fun and happy that everyone was there! Or maybe not?
The one major exception was Dec. 31, 1999, for the countdown to 2000. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was mayor at the time, said that the crowd was "pushing two million." That prompted an analysis by The Times, which found reason for skepticism.
As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president.
Recently, we were watching John Waters's 1998 movie Pecker, which starred all kinds of great people like Martha Plimpton and Lily Taylor and Edward Furlong, before he got weird and started getting arrested and dating his manager. Anyway, as in all John Waters movies, there were about five really brilliantly funny parts in it, one of which was a game the characters played called "Shopping for Others," in which they'd go to the supermarket and sneak things into the shopping carts of fellow shoppers when they weren't looking. (Like a long phallic gourd in the cart of a mousy single woman or a stack of Depends for a smarmy dude in tight jeans, etc.) Anyway, we got to thinking: How about if, this year, we make New Year's resolutions for others? We've never made New Year's resolutions ourselves — it's weird, every year New Year's Eve rolls around, and we realize we're still kind of perfect! — but we've always felt we were missing out on that great American tradition. Not to mention, frankly, there are people that could use our assistance. So. To celebrate the great New Yorkers who make this blog possible and to help them continue their gloriousness into 2008, we've generously ginned up some resolutions for their benefit.
A publicist for model Annabel Vartanian claims that the model fainted at a La Perla party because "she wore herself out," not because she has an eating disorder. Kim Cattrall is donating all the furs she wore in the Sex and the City movie to PETA, which in turn will give them to charity. Cindy Adams is taking credit for breaking Enquirer's John Edwards–is–having–an–affair story. East Village landmark dive bars Sophie's and Mona's are both going up for sale after the holidays. Police commish Ray Kelly says he won't make a decision about running for mayor until after the presidential scrum plays out. Donald Trump will be David Letterman's first guest back when he goes live on January 2. Model Selita Ebanks, who may have been dating James Blake, was at a Knicks game with Giants lineman Osi Umenyira.