Rudy’s 50-state strategy

Salena Zito
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Posted: Sep 14, 2007 3:37 PM
Rudy’s 50-state strategy

CANONSBURG, PA-One day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks Republican presidential nominee Rudy Giuliani zeroed in on the Democratic front-runners – stinging Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Edwards with the sharpest words in the presidential campaign to date.

Giuliani is clearly exercising a strategic move to define himself as the Republican front-runner who hopes to cinch the nomination before his GOP rivals gain steam. And he is increasing the volume on the issue Giuliani believes can catapult him to the White House: a do-or-die fight between the U.S. and international terrorism with the former New York mayor leading America’s charge.

Referencing the MoveOn.org ad that painted General Petraeus as a ‘betrayer’ he called out the Democrats to “get the political games over with and get the statesmanship in line.” America "cannot go back to the policies of appeasement, retreat or surrender that Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are talking about.”

“What is going on in Iraq is a very serious thing,” he said at a campaign stop in western Pennsylvania. “It is not about Hillary Clinton’s career or Barack Obama’s career or my career, it is about America … it is about whether America is going to be successful or if America is going to lose, it is about whether we are going to be safe against terrorism or we are not.”

Giuliani also took exception to Obama’s speech last Wednesday in which he called for “a clear and certain timetable’ for withdrawal from Iraq. “When in the history of war has an army ever given its enemy a timetable of retreat?”

With campaign stops in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania Giuliani spent the bulk of last Wednesday raising money, eyebrows and probably the blood pressure of Democrat front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And by taking serious swipes at the democratic frontrunners Giuliani’s campaign demonstrated a serious turn. With Labor Day and September 11th behind him he tested his ‘national’ political muscle by campaigning not in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire but in the general election battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Giuliani said the reason that he was campaigning outside of the traditional primary states is that he's “the only GOP candidate who can play and win in a 50-state campaign – which is why I am running a national campaign.”

“We can make races in states that have not had competitive races in years,” Giuliani said, pointing to traditional Democrat strongholds like Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California as among those he can win.

“I suspect that Giuliani is correct” says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “It's difficult to see the more conservative candidates like Romney, Thompson and Huckabee having any real chance of carrying the vast majority of the '04 Blue States. Romney, for instance, won't have a chance even in Massachusetts where he served as Governor. The polls show Rudy making Pennsylvania, New Jersey and a few other Blue States competitive--though he is far from guaranteed those states. Probably he'll lose most of them, too, while making the Democrats spend money in places they had not expected to.”

Giuliani said that “if we nominate one of the other Republicans, they are going to do one of these 20 state campaigns that would close campaign offices in New York, New Jersey or California.” He added “I just won a California straw poll at 64%...it’s not the same targeted campaign with me as the candidate.”

Making the leap that Sen. Clinton will be the Democrats’ nominee, he said “every single poll that has been taken for the last six months shows that I can run, by far, the strongest campaign” against her.

Howard Dean, the Democrats’ national chairman, has been equally clear about running a 50-state campaign strategy for whoever ends up being his party’s nominee. In a recent interview in western Pennsylvania Dean said that he was “not going to go down the path of having his party’s presidential nominee only competing in 18 to 20 states” writing off the rest of the country.

Giuliani believes America is a country of great strengths and that we must build on those – “we cannot constantly have people run America down.” He contrasts his optimistic view with what he contends is Clinton’s pessimistic vision, describing the country as that “shining city on the hill” that Ronald Reagan so distinctly described in a 1979 campaign speech.

“There is no reason for any American to have their head down,” he said. “We are the strongest country on earth, we are the most successful country on earth, and we are enormously fortunate people.

“Every morning, Americans should wake up and say, ‘Thank God that we are here.’ ”

Recently Giuliani dipped in the polls, thanks in part to the entrance of Fred Thompson to the race. For now that does not seem to faze him saying that “he could not be doing better…in the national election against the Democrats -- I'm the only one (of the Republicans) that's ahead."