Early in my career as a political speechwriter, a young but wise campaign manager explained why candidates from the same party too often tear each other to pieces in the primaries. He told me that when all the candidates of your party are shooting at the probable opponent from the other party, your frontrunner is going to get shot in the back. I thought of that analogy the other day as I read about Rudy Giuliani's potent political attacks on Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democrats' presidential nomination, stuck George Soros' giant left foot in her mouth attempting to do the bidding of MoveOn.org. For the entire world to see, Hillary decided that a Senate committee hearing would be a good place to call a decorated war hero, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of American forces in Iraq, a liar. Parroting the same extremist nonsense that is rapidly making the folks at MoveOn the leading leftist nutters of the blogosphere, Hillary's comments landed with a clank in most parts of America, most notably at the Giuliani for President Campaign headquarters.
The previous week, the folks running the nation's premiere agenda-driven newspaper, The New York Times, embarrassed themselves by substantially discounting the now-infamous, full-page, MoveOn ad calling Gen. Petraeus "Gen. Betray Us." Apparently, The Times management doesn't realize that George Soros can afford the full rate.
Adding to their heartburn was former New York City Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who demanded and got the same $65,000 rate for what normally would be $165,000 worth of ad space. (Can you imagine anyone ever again paying the full rate for a full-page ad after this fiasco?) Rudy used the opportunity to excoriate Hillary for her cowardly submission to the anti-war Left and asked America who they trusted more, the senator or the general.
Rather than firing back at his opponents, Rudy is focusing on his likely Democrat challenger. Instead of answering the attacks of Mitt Romney and others in his party who are running behind him in the polls, Giuliani is acting as if he is already the Republican nominee.
Let me say again that even though Giuliani is tough on crime and terrorism, I don't like his domestic agenda at all. As a pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-Second Amendment Republican, I find him far too liberal on most social issues. As my son said to me recently, "Rudy Giuliani is a just Democrat who's willing to blow stuff up."
I also find Giuliani's personal life to be downright offensive. In some ways, he makes Bill Clinton look stable. At least Clinton never had Monica Lewinsky move into the White House and openly live with him like then-Mayor Giuliani did when he had his girlfriend (now his wife) move into Gracie Mansion while he was still married to the mother of his children.
Having said all that, going after Hillary Clinton is a brilliant strategy. It makes Rudy look presidential. It makes his GOP opponents look small when they attack him. And it creates its own momentum. The more Giuliani acts like the heir apparent to the Republican nomination, the more voters will become comfortable with him.
Those of us who were looking to Fred Thompson as the fiscal and social conservative who could wrestle the GOP mantle away from hizzonor are becoming increasingly alarmed by the efficiency of the Giuliani campaign. As I wrote a few months ago, just as Democrats must find a way to turn red states blue, the converse is also true, and Rudy could change the color of the map radically. Consider the electoral vote-rich states that could fall into the GOP column with Giuliani as the nominee: California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and, of course, New York. That's a strong temptation to many Republicans who simply want to win.
Giuliani is leading in most polls largely due to his record as a tough mayor who cleaned up America's biggest, dirtiest city and because of his leadership in the aftermath of 9/11. The war against Islamist fanaticism demands an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Rudy Giuliani firmly believes he is that alternative. An alarming number of Republicans seem to agree with him.