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Giuliani Sitting Out Iowa?
Don't Bet on It


Rudy Giuliani may be sitting out Saturday's Iowa straw poll, but he was still shopping for votes in the state Sunday. Advisers believe his strategy could pay off big in the end. (Dan Balz).

DES MOINES -- He's ducking this weekend's Republican straw poll in Ames, but in the hours after Sunday's GOP debate, Rudy Giuliani did not look like a candidate getting ready to duck the caucuses next January.

After arriving in Iowa less than an hour before the debate, and claiming he was operating on only a couple hours of sleep, Giuliani made seven appearances on Sunday afternoon, blasting the leading Democratic candidates and displaying his customary toughness about how to combat threats of terrorism against the United States.

Asked by a local reporter about how Saturday's straw poll will affect the Republican race, Giuliani said, "It will have whatever impact it has, but it's not going to stop us from competing in the caucuses. Given the fact that we haven't spent any money and we haven't spent as much time here by any means as the other candidates, I'm very encouraged by the position we're in."

Giuliani's path to the nomination hinges less on Iowa or New Hampshire than does Mitt Romney's. He has been much more focused on Florida, which holds its primary next Jan. 29, and big states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, which have clustered with others to create a national primary on Feb. 5.

His decision not to compete in Saturday's straw poll, which he announced two months ago, was seen as evidence that he intended to make only a cursory effort in Iowa next year, putting all his hopes in a late-state strategy that risked giving his rivals the opportunity to build momentum with victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now his strategy is coming more into focus. His stops in Iowa and today, and his promise to audiences who turned out to hear him this weekend to return frequently, suggest that his campaign team has every intention of trying to make this state competitive. The same appears even more the case for New Hampshire.

Of the two early states, New Hampshire should be the more hospitable. The Republican electorate there cares more about cutting taxes than stopping abortions, which should play more to Giuliani's political profile.

Until recently, however, New Hampshire looked problematic. Mitt Romney, from neighboring Massachusetts, has some home field advantage and John McCain won the state handily eight years ago. But McCain's weakened candidacy creates an unexpected opportunity for Giuliani and he appears anxious to take advantage of his rival's problems.

Fred Thompson, who is on the cusp of getting into the race, should not count on making New Hampshire his first stand. The state has rarely warmed to southern candidates (Jimmy Carter is an exception) and Thompson's trip there earlier this summer left many in the state underwhelmed.

Romney has an organizational advantage in both New Hampshire and Iowa. The latest Washington Post-ABC New poll shows he is doing well in Iowa in considerable part because people believe he has worked the state harder than any of the other candidates. He has spent heavily on television ads in Iowa and he and his family have swarmed the state for months.

But the Post-ABC News poll showed that when it comes to evaluating candidates, Iowa Republicans have opinions about Giuliani that are about as positive as those for Romney. One is strength of leadership. There Romney and Giuliani are roughly even. On who has the best chance of getting elected in 2008, Giuliani has the edge at this point.

When people were asked who is closest to you on issues, however, Romney came out ahead -- a reminder that Giuliani's social issues positions are well to the left of a majority of Iowa GOP caucusgoers.

Romney and Giuliani were offered the chance to go after one another in Sunday's debate with moderator George Stephanopoulos showed a clip of an interview Romney had given to Christian Broadcasting Network in March in which he questioned whether Giuliani's positions in favor of abortion rights, gay rights and gun control could ever win over GOP audiences.

Romney deflected the question. "I think Rudy Giuliani is a terrific American and a wonderful mayor," he said. "That was very early in the process. . . I think I have a better perspective on his views now -- not entirely, but a pretty good view on his positions. And I'd rather let him speak for him, his own positions, than me speak for them."

It's doubtful Romney's campaign will be as gentle five months from now.

For now, McCain's star has faded in Iowa, thanks largely to a backlash against his support for comprehensive immigration reform earlier this spring. He stands in single digits in Iowa and facing big hurdles in trying to turn around his candidacy. Giuliani has an opportunity to steal moderate Republicans in the state.

"How many choices do I have" said Stan Redeker, who attended Giuliani's event at the Tic Toc restaurant in Boone and said he considers himself one of those moderates. "Everybody else keeps running away from us."

Thompson may play better with Iowa's more conservative caucus electorate than he does with New Hampshire's primary electorate, but he will be starting late in a state where organization is important.

Giuliani's advisers recall that in 1996, Bob Dole won the Iowa caucses with just 26 percent of the vote. They would like nothing better than to see as many as the minor candidates stay in the race until January and hope for few casualties from Saturday's straw poll.

For Giuliani's strategy, the more candidates fighting on the right, the better.

Giuliani advisers believe he could win Florida even without having won any of the early states, but that is a highly risky strategy. They also believe he is surprisingly strong in South Carolina, and that there is eveidence that social issues are far less important to the electorate today than they were in some past cycles.
All of which means that Giuliani and his team are now focused on a strong finish in Iowa next January. "We need to do well in Iowa and we will compete aggressively there," said one senior adviser.

When Giuliani dropped out of the straw poll competition, campaign manager Mike DuHaime said it was decision based principally on resource allocation. Why spend a million or two million on the straw poll in August when you could save that money for television ads in December and January, just as voters are making up their minds?

If Giuliani commits his energies to Iowa and New Hampshire, as he told audiences this weekend that he would, and has put aside those straw poll resources for television ads, his decision to skip Saturday's straw poll may look a lot shrewder than it did in June. As the candidate put it Sunday, "We think ours is going to turn out to be the better strategy."

--Dan Balz

By Post Editor  |  August 6, 2007; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Dan Balz's Take  
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Comments

Gerladine Ferraro, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson have not been successful in the past as presidential candidates. I guess we will see if voting history will change in 2008.

Posted by: motivado | August 7, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"Many believe the country is not ready for a woman, black, or Mormon President . . ."
Source, please. Who believes this? How many people? Enough to make a difference?
". . . based on voting history in the past."
Do you believe that opinions cannot change over the course of time? Are you claiming that because a woman or a black man was unelectable in the past, they will never be electable?
What if the Democrats were to nominate John Edwards? He doesn't fit into the "automatic disqualification" categories. Who would win then?

Posted by: zombie_process | August 6, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Giuliani could have been buying the toys for some less priviledged children. I would give him the befit of the doubt. I don't know for sure. I can tell you this for sure.....Giuliani vs Thompson for the GOP nod and Presidential nod.

Romney will probably not win the GOP because he is a Mormon. Nothing wrong with his religious belief but the way the country has voted historically for so many years has been if you are not Christian/Catholic you will not win the Presidency.

Many believe the country is not ready for a woman, black, or Mormon President based on voting history in the past. Nor do they believe the country will be ready for a Jewish President should Michael Bloomberg or Joe Lieberman decide to run as Independents. Based on that the strongest candidates from the Democratic Party (Clinton and Obama) fall into this group and the strongest possible contenders from the Independent Party (Bloomberg and Lieberman) also fall into this group. That being said, the new President in 2008 will be from the Republican Party without a doubt. There is no doubt about it.

Therefore the presidential election will come down to two people (Thompson or Giuliani).

So who do you think will win?

Posted by: motivado | August 6, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Roberthaley. Giuliani's decision to sit out this straw poll could be pivotal for his campaign. The risk he runs by losing to Romney and/or a second tier candidate far outweighs any possible gains from winning and being able to say that he didn't even try. Romney is his biggest threat. A republican voter could compare their two family lives, and look at Giuliani and ask if the guy can't take care of his own family, how on earth is he supposed to take care of the country. If a no name beats him, it just looks that much worse.

Posted by: anjos | August 6, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

So... Do Iowan's really buy into these kindof bizarre claims of not participating in the straw polls, when the candidate(s) hang out & do campaign events in the vicinity of the straw poll? Maybe I have my anti-Giuliani blinders on, but it seems like he's trying to sandbag the process by claiming to not be involved, but turning around and campaigning there.

Posted by: bsimon | August 6, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure Rudy's decision to sit out the Iowa Straw Poll is such a good one. Sure, he runs the risk of losing to Romney in the straw poll and giving Romney a good boost. But by sitting it out, he's almost certain to lose to Romney.

But worse than that, there's a very good chance that he will lose to a second-tier candidate or even a couple of second-tier types. The man who finishes second to Romney is going to get a good push from the Iowa Straw Poll and could emerge as another major contender.

Rudy doesn't need more competition when the Republican rank and file are so dissatisfied with the present field of candidates. His only real asset is his claim to electability. He doesn't need some nobody to emerge from nowhere to be able to make the same claim on the basis of his Cinderella performance in the Iowa Straw Poll.

Posted by: roberthaley25 | August 6, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

TO: grannymiller

"Sorry folks - Rudy Giuliani is going no where in Iowa.
He looks just as plastic & fakey as Mitt Romney.
But unlike Romney, his adulteries,abortion sympathies and anti - gun record will not get past the folks in Iowa."

So, I guess everyone in Iowa is without sin? The same old sanctimonious crap coming from the bible belt. Hey, I know quite a few women that have had abortions. How long do you think they should go to jail for? I don't see too many priests in jail and they're boffing little boys.

Posted by: shewholives | August 6, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

That picture of Rudy buying toys at Walmart just shows how ridiculous our system of choosing candidates is. (Though if Rudy's campaign provided the photo, it certainly should be worth a campaign donation from Walmart). Seldom do any of the top tier candidates on either side do their own shopping and when they do, it's not at Walmart. What's more, all Americans know this -- so what's the point of these kind of photo ops." We need public financing of campaigns so none of us has to be embarrassed by this sham anymore. Not to mention that it would clean up government immensely.

Posted by: noGOP4me | August 6, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

He should sit out politics permanently, never mind these ridiculous polls.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | August 6, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh good lord - is that a kid's footbally he's got there at the checkout?? LOL -- come on folks - not only is his son too old for that gift but he doesn't even talk to Rudy-n-Judy!!!


Can you get more fake than this photo op of Rudy at the Walmart Checkout??? NO

Posted by: kec132 | August 6, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing in reading the comments that most people can only critize the Republicans for taking on the Democrats, but not add one comment on the substance of where they were wrong in pointing out the Democratic deficiencies. Guess they can't do it in a few words, but just complain - as I seem to be doing.

Posted by: jsdeacon | August 6, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Trudi Julie-Annie is sitting out Iowa because he hasn't a THING to wear!!

All his fancy frocks are at the cleaners!

And his bras and panties are all in the wash.

LOL!!

Posted by: TomIII | August 6, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Like the fellow in the movie "The Good Bye Girl" said: "If you can't make it in Ames, Iowa, you know you have career problems..."

Posted by: aries4 | August 6, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

What a crew these Republican candidates are. Most have had two or three wives, some of their current wives were their girlfriends when they were previously married, several are old enough to be their wives grandfather. What a crew this is representing the "family values" GOP. What a crew, what a joke!

Posted by: logcabin1836 | August 6, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Bush's secret spying, i.e. warrantless wiretapping: Why did the Democrats in Congress cave in? Were they just so anxious to take their Labor Day vacations that they would have married the devil himself to get out of town early? Did they think that it didn't matter anyway because after the flack clears they will be able to nullify their votes six months later, just in time for the larger states' primaries? But how many people will Bush be able to round up and throw in prison without the protection of habeus corpus in that period of time?

Posted by: NewBostonYankee | August 6, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The GOP candidates are pathetic, in all ways. Simply pathetic.

Posted by: rdfreel | August 6, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

That picture of Rudy in Walmart is one of the most contrived photos I've seen.

"Yeah, he's like one of us!"

Posted by: coolbob | August 6, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

This post has a ton of typos. Anybody proofreading these things before they go up?

Posted by: wldrake | August 6, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Sorry folks - Rudy Giuliani is going no where in Iowa.

He looks just as plastic & fakey as Mitt Romney.
But unlike Romney, his adulteries,abortion sympathies and anti - gun record will not get past the folks in Iowa.

Posted by: grannymiller | August 6, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

More remarks on DEMOCRATIC candidates in a REPUBLICAN nomination debate shows where the focus of the nation is: On Democratic candidtates and their espoused policies like Universal Health Care which gaining traction and can not be sidetracked by Republicans as "Socialized medicine" without any remedy of their own.

The democratic candidates when they talk about Republican policies they attack the hollow Republican Administration and its lack luster performance on all fronts snce 2000: Iraq, Healthcare, Education etc.

But the Republican Nomination debates focus attacks on Democratic candidaes because they have little to debate between themselves. Shame on Republicans for not even being able to carry a Republican Nomination debate without getting the Democrats in.

Why can the Republicans not leave the Democrats for the General Election. Seems they are running out of patience and debating points for their own Republican NOMINATION election!

Shame on Republican candidates who can not even have a proper Nomination debate for their own party without dragging the Democrats who have already won the public attention. There lies the Republican delimma!

Posted by: ajain31 | August 6, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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