The strangest thing happened on the way to the Presidential primaries. I changed my mind about almost every candidate – and in some cases even changed it back again. I never had completely made my mind up about who I thought the best GOP nominee would be, but I had some strong opinions. Many of those have changed after watching the candidates perform for the past year.
I have been a fan of Rudy Giuliani for many years and even wrote about the strengths he would bring to the Presidency on two separate occasions over the past two years. Those strengths are still there, but as I wrote over a year ago, he also brings some negatives. Rudy’s strengths are being able to lead in a time of crisis, being tough on law and order, having a track record of doing what most said couldn’t be done in New York City, fiscal conservatism and being able to communicate effectively. The “communication thing” is incredibly important to me because if George Bush had better communicated the situation in Iraq, public opinion of the war would never have reached the lows it did. If Bush’s approval numbers had been higher he would have been able to accomplish much more on a variety of issues. If anything, the presidency of George Bush taught us that a President in this age of media must possess strong communication skills to be effective. Rudy was not only a good communicator during 9/11, but he has consistently spoken forcefully on the issue of terrorism and the war since then.
On the downside, I pointed out that many Republicans would not vote for Rudy due to his position on abortion and gay rights, and that his marital problems were a negative that would give Democrats ammunition. His strengths have remained constant, but the negatives seem to have multiplied. One of the worst blows came in November with the indictment of Bernard Kerik, who was not only the Police Commissioner of New York under Giuliani, but was recommended by him for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security. I am still a fan, but a bit less enthusiastic one than earlier.