Rudy Giuliani has found his groove in attacking Hillary Clinton. Whether his barbs will help him beat her in the general election, we don’t know yet. But they will help him to win the Republican primary.
The major reason for anyone to vote for Rudy Giuliani is that he has the best chance — we would say the only chance — to defeat Hillary Clinton. And beating Hillary is very, very, very important!
It is only through the terror issue that the Republicans have a chance to win in November, 2008. If Americans retain their current complaisance, the GOP will have no chance at all. On the other issues — Iraq, the economy, environment, elderly, Social Security, health care, Medicare, and trade — the Democrats have the edge.
Taxes, normally a Republican issue, has faded from sight because of Bush’s tax cuts. Crime and drugs, also Republican base issues, are gone — products of the Clinton/GOP success in cutting the crime rate in half. Immigration, another normally big win for the Republicans, has been blunted by Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform. So the GOP has one issue left: defending us against terrorism.
And that should be enough. When you consider the plots against us which have been thwarted — Brooklyn Bridge, Sears Tower, the Dirty Bomb, Stinger attack at Newark, JFK Airport, the Holland Tunnel, a mall in Ohio, downtown London, the pub in the UK, 10 planes over the Atlantic — it should be more than enough to remind us that we need a president who will fight terrorism successfully. And when one realizes the narrow margin by which some of these plots were foiled and the cred it that is due to the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretaps, and the Bush Homeland Security people for stopping them, the case becomes ever clearer.
But if there is one man who can remind us about the dangers of terrorism, who personifies our response to terror, it is Rudy. His very presence evokes memories of 9/11 and it is that memory which the Republicans must put front and center in order to win.
Running against Hillary, despite her reputation for toughness, the terror issue can be particularly devastating. Her support for watering down the Patriot Act and her opposition to the NSA wiretaps both make her very vulnerable on the issue. Rudy knows the issue backwards and forwards (having put in place many of the safeguards that stopped the terror plots directed against New York City in the past few years) and can pin her back on the issue. As a Democrat and a liberal, she has great vulnerability on the terror issue.
If Rudy were to focus on the Republican primary and his GOP opponents, the issues of abortion, gay rights, and guns would divide the party and might lead to the nomination of a pro-choice candidate like Thompson or a recent convert like Romney. Anyone who has spent five minutes with Thompson and five with Hillary knows that she would have him for breakfast in any debate (assuming Fred could make it out of bed in time to attend and stay awake for the whole hour and a half).
So Rudy is correct to concentrate his fire on Hillary. He is all that stands between us and another President Clinton … or will it be President Rodham?