It's Official...Immigration and the 'It' Factor in Republican Primaries

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 02, 2007 4:53 PM
The Big Three are all squishes, to some extent, on immigration:

All this is to say that there is no hotter button with core conservatives and you can expect some of the second-tier candidates to remind the frontrunners how they're out of step with their party faithful on the Reagan Library stage here tomorrow night.  
Brownback, Gilmore, Huckabee, Tancredo, T. Thompson, and Hunter sure have a chance to make a splash by making markedly aggressive attacks on the front-runners on this issue. It fires up the base, and reminds them of all they're being asked to compromise in order to win in '08 with any one of the front-runners.

Those compromises are exactly what's given birth to Fred!-Mania, says Karol.

And, making a splash in the first nationally televised debate would mean making money for any one of these second-tier candidates, all of whom are lagging way behind the Big Three in that crucial race. Will it be a race to see who can go nasty the quickest to scare up a few headlines and a few bucks? Or, will Republicans be polite and mindful of advertising party infighting while in the presence of Mrs. Reagan?

The Big Three have the most to lose tomorrow night, which will likely make them very boring, and the other candidates have very little to lose, which will likely serve to make them much more fiesty. Of course, when two of your front-runners are McCain and Giuliani, I guess even "playing it safe" could become unpredictable.

After all, haven't you heard? Rudy is cuhhhh-raaa-zzzy.

No, really, that's the thesis of that Vanity Fair piece on Rudy, which is basically a rehashing of old anecdotes about the colorful candidate (all of which are known to political junkies already) with "he's crazy. Like, really cuckoo," as the grand finale.

More on the Vanity Fair piece's allegations from Ryan Sager.

I think this is the most important sentence of the piece:

Still, say what you want, Rudy's fearlessness or kookiness does break through the political clutter and leave a powerful impression—that may be the biggest part of the political job.

That "powerful impression" has carried a kooky NYC mayor to a shot at the presidency. It's an impression, as the article puts it, of "kickassness," and it's been enough in the early '08 goings, to convince social cons that Rudy's security cred is enough to make up for his social views. As much as McCain and Romney fans will hate to hear it, Rudy just has that thing, that charisma, that electricity that makes it fun to think about working for him, volunteering for him, voting for him. McCain used to have it but doesn't anymore, and I'm not sure Romney ever has, partly because his name doesn't have that star-power glow about it yet (although, don't get me wrong, there are enthusiastic folks in both camps).

Fred has it too, but doesn't require the compromise from social cons that a Rudy candidacy does. And, that is why, in the race for the Republican nominee, a Yankee socially liberal mayor and an actor who's not even running are the big talk. It's the it.