Not only are voters hungry for change, but Rudy is not, in fact, an incumbent president. So every time he tried to draw out this "tested" campaign message, he ends up talking about things he did a decade ago, on issues that are no longer very important to voters, such as crime and welfare reform. Rudy did a magnificent job as mayor of New York City, but voters aren't interested in the past. And when Rudy talks about the future, he sounds like President Bush on steroids: war, terror, war, terror, aggression.
Candidates like Rudy do well when voters are scared of thugs or bombs in the street. That's when you need a tough-talking, big man to take on the bad guys. But here, as in those other issues, conservatives are victims of their own success: We beat communism; we haven't had a major terror attack in six years.
And folks are tired of feeling scared all the time.
They want to feel good again about our country and its institutions.
Next stop: South Carolina.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.