Republicans debate, and it gets ugly! Not that anyone is surprised...
by FrenchSocialist, Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 07:48:22 PM EDT
The GOP was holding a debate on Fox News tonight, while "new candidate" Fred Thompson was busy announcing his candidacy on Jay Leno.
Read my full analysis on Campaign Diaries.
- Romney and Giuliani went head to head. The two have been increasingly aggressive over the past few weeks, seeking to take advantage of the vacuum left by McCain collapse and Thompson's reluctance to officially start campaign to gain the upper hand. Tonight showcased their opposition. Romney attacked Giuliani on immigration, repeatedly referring to New York as a sanctuary city. Guiliani's reply? "I didn't have the luxury of political rhetoric." But these back-and-forth exchanges can also work at both candidates' advantage. By engaging each other as they are doing, Romney and Giuliani could make the race about them, thereby forcing the media to concentrate on a two-way horserace that would exclude other candidates and deprive Fred Thompson of the space he so desperatly needs right now. We will see in the coming weeks whether this strategy works.
- McCain has been tring to get back in the top-tier, and he is doing so by hugging the surge very tightly. He has always been identified with Bush's Iraq War policy, and while it might not be the best place to be today, you can bet McCain would rather talk about Iraq than immigration. With Republicans regrouping on the Iraq issue lately, McCain was feeling triumphant - and let everyone know. When Romney dared say that the surge "appeared to be working," McCain jumped in to correct him: "It is working. Not apparently."
- McCain also went after Giuliani today, attacking his national security credentials: "I know the conflict, I know war, I have seen war. I have led." McCain was specifically commenting on comments he had made yesterday stating that Giuliani's tenure as NYC mayor did not qualify him to be commander-in-chief. This was an especially significant attack since Republican voters have been attracted to the Giuliani campaign precisely because they view it as strong on national security because of Giuliani's post 9-11 leadership. Here are McCain's comments.
I think the nation respects the mayor's leadership after 9/11, and I do, too, and I think he displayed leadership at a time that Americans needed some steady hand, and I think that his conduct was very laudatory following 9/11. I don't think it translates, necessarily, into foreign policy or national security expertise. I know of nothing in his background that indicates that he has any experience in it, with him or Romney.
For those of you who have not gotten a chance to read it, the Village Voice's Giuliani's Five Big Lies on 9-11 is a must-read article.
- But in what is unmistakable proof that he is no threat to win the nomination, Giuliani did not even respond to McCain's allegations. He said instead that he would probably have supported McCain if he himself had not been running. Talk about a diss!
- This did not prevent The Washington Post's Chris Cilliza from praising McCain's performance:
In truth, it was McCain who stole the night with his passionate defense of his credentials as a war hero, enemy of pork barrel spending and truth teller. McCain has slipped badly in national polling but remains in the game in New Hampshire where he scored a stunning upset of George W. Bush in 2000. While McCain remains a major longshot for the nomination, his performance tonight showed he is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to winning in New Hampshire.
- In other news from the Republican field, a new ARG poll from Michigan tells a fascinating story. Romney is now leading with 39% of the vote, with Giuliani, Thompson and McCain far behind at 13%, 12% and 9% respectively (the Democratic poll has Clinton dominating the field with 43%, 21 points ahead of Obama). This is even better than the EPIC/MRA poll from last week that had Romney narrowly ahead. It does appear that Romney has opened up a significant lead in the three first voting states (IA, NH and MI) and this could lead to him straight to the nomination. As I wrote a week ago,
If Romney confirms his dominance in IA and NH, he is likely to roll to victory in Michigan (the same would not have been true if SC or FL had been third in line). And thus, Romney will get the big state win he needs, making sure to capitalize on early successes. And if Romney wins Iowa on January 5th, NH on the 8th and Michigan on the 15th, does anyone expect Giuiliani to remain as strong as he is in Florida and the later states? Certainly not!
- A new poll from South Carolina, however, paints a different picture. SC is Romney's weakest state, and it shows as he comes in at only 11%. However, Romney has two saving graces in SC: First, no other candidate seems to have taken the lead, as Thompson leads with only 19%. Second, if Romney wins his third primary in as many contests in Michigan on 01/15, won't he get a huge boost in SC on the 19th? And even if he doesn't will it matter?
Read my full analysis on Campaign Diaries.