Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rudy Not Such A Hit At CPAC

Rudy Giuliani got a rousing reception at the 34th gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday - until he started to speak. Mitt Romney got a lukewarm reception from the activists at CPAC - until he began to speak. And then suddenly Rudy wasn't so popular with the CPACers and Romney was.

First, the story from the New York Times:

The conference drew thousands of attendees, many of whom waited in a long line out the door for a late-afternoon appearance by Ann Coulter, the conservative author and commentator. Still, the tone of the conference was less excitement about the 2008 campaign than concern about the ideological credentials of the three leading contenders for the Republican nomination.

Mr. Giuliani arrived to a rousing reception, but the room grew silent and restless as Mr. Giuliani wandered through a speech that lasted 40 minutes. By contrast, Mr. Romney arrived to a much more subdued reception but left to rousing applause.

“The governor knocked this speech out of the park,” said Paloma A. Zepeda, a marketing consultant and conservative blogger who said she came into the room with “serious doubts” about Mr. Romney, and left saying she was leaning toward supporting him. By contrast, she said, Mr. Giuliani “took a risk by coming to C.P.A.C., and he managed to not allay a single conservative fear about a Giuliani candidacy.”

In perhaps an unlucky bit of scheduling, Mr. Giuliani appeared after Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, who gave a blistering attack on gun laws pressed for New York City by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, also a Republican, who was elected with Mr. Giuliani’s very strong support. “Everything they do in New York City on guns smacks of hypocrisy,” Mr. LaPierre said.

He made no mention of Mr. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani did not address Mr. LaPierre’s criticism.

And then the story from the Washington Times:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday delivered a faultlessly tailored appeal to more than 1,000 grass-roots conservative activists hungry for a renewed commitment to limited government.

Addressing the 34th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Romney stood out from the pack of Republican presidential aspirants that included Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mike Huckabee by promising to end taxes on earnings from interest, dividends and capital gains, and to cap federal spending and veto every attempt to break that cap -- whether proposed by a Republican or Democratic Congress.

"I know how to veto. I like vetoes," Mr. Romney said.

Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who served in President Reagan's Justice Department, said the late president understood that ideas, not race or ethnicity, are what identify Americans.

Drawing nearly as much applause but not the repeated standing ovations Mr. Romney received, Mr. Giuliani said, "it's very critical to begin every discussion" of Iraq and Afghanistan with the understanding that the United States is a nation that covets peace.


In interviews afterward, some attendees said Mr. Giuliani lost momentum when he heaped lavish praise on Abraham Lincoln.

While many conservatives regard the Civil War president as the spiritual founder of the Republican Party, others deeply resent him as a man who ruthlessly suspended constitutional rights and freedoms in order to militarily challenge the South's belief in its right to secede. Some saw similar disdain for individuals' rights in Mr. Giuliani's successful war on crime in New York City.

Mr. Giuliani took the side of the Bush administration on an issue that troubles civil libertarian conservatives, saying that "you need the tools like the Patriot Act and legal intelligence surveillance."

"Rudy thought he was addressing a Republican audience," said Mike Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party. "Mitt understood this is an audience of people who are conservatives first."

For all the hoopla about Rudy's increasing popularity in the polling for the '08 Republican presidential nomination, I still maintain that Giuliani does so well on name recognition alone. Most people outside of New York have no idea what the guy stands for, no idea how sleazy he has been in both his personal and business lives, and no idea what a complete asshole he is.

When Republican primary voters find out he has been married three times, has committed adultery with at least three different women (cheated on first wife with soon-to-be second wife Donna Hanover; cheated on Donna Hanover with Communications Director Christine Lategano; cheated on Donna with soon-to-third wife Judi Nathan;), went to court to get an order that allowed him to bring his mistress home to the same house where his estranged second wife and kids lived so he could schtup her, moved in with two gay men after his second wife threw him out of the house for cheating on her, and is estranged from his kids because of his maritial difficulties, I believe conservatives will be less open to a Rudy nomination.

Seriously, Rudy gives Bill Clinton a run for his money on the adultery front. If it bothered wingnuts that Clinton was schtupping outside of marriage, it surely ought to bother them about Rudy (unless they're complete hypocrites, of course, which is always a possibility.) Kate O'Beirne, an editor at the National Review, has called Rudy "a cad." I suspect there are more wingers who feel the exact same way.

On the business front, Rudy is going to have to explain why he needs to keep the client list of his security firm secret. He's also going to have to explain Kerik.

On a policy front, Giuliani is not going to appeal to wingers with his pro-gun control, pro-gay rights, pro-choice policy stances. He could always pull a Romney and flip-flop on those issues and say he doesn't believe them anymore. But as of now, they don't help him in the primary.

Once the other candidates, particularly Romney, start taking the gloves off and using some of the opposition research they have on Rudy, I think you're going to see his poll numbers plummet. Already today the NY Times published a piece saying his kids are estranged from Rudy because of his infidelity problems. There are many more stories where this one came from and you can be sure that Romney's people (he's got the most Bush/Cheney '00/'04 people on his team) are going to attack him hard in the very near future. McCain's going to have to stem the free-fall he's in by attacking "front-runner" Rudy as well.

Let's see if Giuliani can survive these attacks (justified, in my opinion) on his sleazy personal life, his sleazy business life and his liberal positions on social issues.

I'm betting he's not going to survive them. Which may be why he hasn't jumped into the race officially just yet. He's got to know that he carries the most baggage of any presidential candidate since Bill Clinton ran w/ drug use, ethics problems, sexual harassment and adultery allegations dogging him in the 1990's.

POSTSCRIPT: One caveat to the Rudy campaign. if Hillary looks like she's the odds on favorite to win the Democratic nomination, then it's possible that conservatives will rally around the most electable GOPer who's NOT a conservative - and that would be Rudy - in order to keep the Clintons out the White House.

Rudy's popularity has to do with the fact that for many Americans Sept. 11 has become a religious event resembling Jesus' crucifixion.
That's an interesting analogy, elizabeth. I think there are some on the right who were very glad it happened. They were lost for a cause after the end of the Cold War. The fight against "Islamofascism" or whatever the fuck their calling it these days gave them a new cause.

Unfortunately, many of them didn't seem to understand the complexities of the Middle East, so we got the Saddam take-down lumped in with the Afghanistan war and the WoT and Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and the the Koran flushing and extraordinary renditions and the Patriot Act, etc.

Given the fact that we have used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to tear up the constitution, kidnap people, torture people, render them to other countries to be tortured, invade a country on a bullshit pre-text, etc. I bet historians in the future will say this has not been our finest hour.

This is not to say that the 9/11 attacks were not horrific nor that we didn't need to respond. But the response seems to have made things worse (especially when we had the sympathy of so much of the world right after 9/11.)
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