TCS Daily

Why Giuliani Is Golden

By Michael Brandon McClellan - February 27, 2007 12:00 AM

NEWPORT BEACH -- Two surprises surfaced at the California Republican Party Convention a few weeks ago. First was the electric enthusiasm for Rudy Giuliani; second was the widespread ambivalence and, in many cases, even hostility towards John McCain.

Giuliani was there in person delivering an address to a packed luncheon and making the rounds to various overflowing smaller venues. In contrast, the sole McCain presence I encountered was a lone table manned by a single young woman. Giuliani's presence was that of a front runner; McCain's was not.

Having a great deal of respect for John McCain, I pressed a number of people regarding their dislike of the Arizona Senator's candidacy. They conceded that McCain was strong on the issues of foreign policy and fiscal responsibility, but stated that they could not move past things like McCain-Feingold and the "Gang of 14." Others simply said that while they respect much of his record and especially his service in Vietnam, they "still don't trust him." The almost complete absence of the McCain campaign from the convention seemed to exacerbate the trust issue.

Last week a poll conducted by San Diego based Datamar, Inc. confirmed my convention observations. Among likely primary voters in California, the poll showed 11% favoring Romney, 17% preferring McCain, and a stunning 41% supporting Giuliani.

In another election year, with the California primary trailing behind the pivotal Iowa and New Hampshire contests by several long months, the opinions of California Republicans wouldn't matter all that much. But 2008 is a different story.

This presidential election, California is set to move its primary from June of 2008 to February 5 -- less than a year away. By a vote of 31 to 5, the state Senate passed legislation approving the primary move. The Assembly is expected to follow suit quickly, and Governor Schwarzenegger has stated that he will sign the bill if it passes the Assembly.

Trailing just behind the earliest primaries, the most populous state is going to be a battleground. With a twenty-four point lead over McCain and a thirty point lead over Romney, Giuliani is unquestionably standing on the commanding heights in a potentially pivotal California primary.

However, the convention and the polling data present an interesting question. Why does a hawkish and fiscally conservative McCain, who has taken more conservative positions on social issues than Giuliani, engender such animosity among the California Republican base, whereas Giuliani receives a hero's welcome and the poll numbers to match? The answer might be found in symbolism.

As Mayor of New York, Giuliani symbolized a no-nonsense approach to dealing with crime and corruption. He was the tough good guy who took on the mob as an attorney and cleaned up New York as Mayor. September 11 cemented this image and elevated Giuliani to the truly national stage. He became "America's Mayor" and a symbol of American resolve. Republicans love this image, and Giuliani's perceived toughness seems to be eclipsing his record of social liberalism.

In contrast, McCain elevated himself to the national stage as a "maverick" Senator, known for breaking with his party. For many GOP primary voters, the image of McCain the moderate eclipses McCain's conservative voting record, and even his military heroism. In two pivotal strokes, many party stalwarts believe that McCain put himself above his party, and accordingly at odds with them. The first is McCain-Feingold, which most GOP activists see as simultaneously assaulting free speech, hurting the party's financing, and empowering liberal "527" groups like The second is the "Gang of 14" in which McCain led a group of seven Republican and seven Democrat senators to work out a compromise and prevent Senate Republicans from using the "nuclear option" to eliminate the Democrats' ability to filibuster judicial nominees. In spite of the fact that both conservative-favored John Roberts and Samuel Alito were confirmed as Supreme Court Justices after the McCain-led "Gang of 14" incident, many see McCain's undermining of the GOP majority as evidence of his unreliability.

Given their disparate ascents to the national stage, Giuliani's enduring image is more conservative than McCain's. At the risk of oversimplifying, it is perhaps fair to say that Giuliani's image is loudly conservative and quietly moderate, whereas McCain's image is loudly moderate and quietly conservative. These disparate images have taken hold among California Republicans, and Giuliani's image is blowing McCain's out of the water.

Much can happen in a year, but images can be very hard to change, regardless of what the candidate says. In California, that is very good for Giuliani, and very bad for McCain. That said, the Golden State's early primary may just be Giuliani's golden ticket to the nomination.

Michael Brandon McClellan, a litigating attorney in Newport Beach, CA, runs the weblog Port McClellan ( He was a 2005 Lincoln Fellow of the Claremont Institute.


Gang of 14
That there is no 'ideal' candidate is a given, so realpolitik demands that we not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
McCain's founder status with the Gang of 14 and the McCain -Feingold attack on political speech are 2 straws that break the camel's back. Giuliani has some personal problems for Conservatives but the potential for deep and lasting and constitutional harm done by McCain far surpasses Rudy's passing influence on issues such as abortion. And Rudy is and will be right on the war on terror....and that is THE existential question facing us.

Giuliani and entitlements
Has he mentioned what entitlements he would cut? If not, wouldn't that mean that he is just another big government guy? Or is he like the liberals who would only cut the military? What about his views on what used to be the criminals called 'illegal immigrants' that are now called 'our newly welcomed guests who wishes and aspriitions are just as valuable as ours, and should be granted drivers licensces, free medical care, free school, the right to vote, the right to invite all of their loser relatives, friends and countrymen, but who will never be called apon to serve the country in any way whatsoever"?

No surprise in how Republicans feel about McCain.
McCain was always the medias favorite Republican. Based on his willingness to bash other Republicans in order to advance the medias agenda.

He has gone out of his way to alienate much of the Republican base. Insulting religious conservatives at every chance.

He frequently undercuts the president. Much to the delight of his "friends" in the media, but angering actual Republican voters.

I know many, conservatives who will never forgive McCain for his backing of campaign finance and speech reform. The idea that the govt can make it illegal for private individuals to voice their opinions on candidates in the months before an election.

His involvement in pushing anti-interrogation of terrorist laws.
His involvement in the gang of 14 fiasco that made it almost impossible to nominate truely conservative judges.

For years, McCain has trashed his fellow Republicans in order to gain the accolades of the MSM. And now the MSM is surprised that their favorite Republican is not well liked amongst Republicans.

Surpise, surprise, surprise.

Rudy has promised (for whatever a politicians promises are worth), that while he is personally in favor of abortion, he believes that this is a state, not a federal issue, and he promises to appoint constructionist judges.

We will see
This election cycle hasn't even started yet and Giuliani is the early goldne boy; I would say he is doomed. Few early starters win the primary; but some do. Perhaps Giuliani is one of those, but there are a lot of prospects out there yet. Time will tell.

California's Modified Closed Primary System
One thing that ought to be noted is that California has some of the most byzantine primary laws in the country. The current system is a "modified closed primary," which will allow unaffiliated voters (i.e., those that decline to state a party affiliation when they register) to obtain any party's primary ballot if they know to request it, but which prevents affiliated voters from crossing party lines to vote on the opposite ticket. See:

for more info.

This will strongly favor more conservative candidates in the primary. I have a bias as a radical moderate: my preference would obviously be to get lots of independents or even Democrats voting in the Republican primary. If you're a California resident and a small-i independent voter (remember, there's Independent Party, too), you need to make sure you understand these rules if you want to vote for a Republican in the primary. If you're currently affiliated with a different party and want to vote for a Republican in the primary, you need to re-register as a Republican or as a "decline to state" voter.

As for McCain, he certainly has authored a huge amount of bad legislation that ran afoul of the law of unintended consequences, McCain-Feingold being only the most egregious example. On the other hand, leadership and legislative prowess have virtually nothing to do with one another. I thought his leadership in the gang of 14 was commendable and pulled the Senate back from the brink of rules changes that would have been catastrophic.

Having said that, Giuliani is a socially moderate libertarian's dream candidate, at least on paper. We'll see what happens after opposition research gets through exposing what's required to be an effective mayor of New York. No doubt it won't be pretty.

I agree with the conventional wisdom on McCain; he is too unpredictable and too temperamental for me. Temperament is important, and Giuliani's temperament is much more like the likable Reagan's, IMO.

08 candidates
I agree with the posts about Mc Cain not getting the nod. I think that the test for Rudi will be if his personal taste in favor of abortion and gun control will spill over into his public policy. He needs to be very clear on those two issues to keep this conservative from throwing his vote away for a third party conservative if he gets the nod.
Newt would be my favorite. He would make chopped liver out of any Democrat and most Republicans in a debate. He is a smart guy with much experience and a national voting record to run on.
Perhaps a Newt and Rudi ticket?

Subway Series -skip it for the minors.
New Yorkers might think the rest country's teams exist only to provide an opponent for the Mets and Yankees and projecting the present a year into the future is perilous but:

If it comes down to Giuliani and Clinton, I don't see much of a choice. I'm not buying the current line being put forth that Hllary is such an omnipotent she-devil that her defeat must be purchased at any cost and that ABC (anybody but Clinton)is the only way to vote in '08.

Both are deficient in character, just in different ways. One is notorious for abusing people who work for her, the other is exposed his (then soon to be ex) wife and kids to a media circus. Giuliani's big shot at contributing to the national stage (other than not being the Ray Nagen of the North on 9/11) was named Keruk(sp?) and Hillary gave us healthcare by Deam Wormer-double secret probation. If that's Rudy's idea of a properly vetted candidate- his "strict constructionist" judicial appointments will be nicely covered by the Weekly World News.

If this becomes the choice-then I'm skipping it. I'll find a third party candidate. If we're going to go scialist, lets go razorback hogwild.

"Few early starters..."
"Few early starters win the primary; but some do."

This is true in the Democratic Party, but not so much for the Republicans. When the Republicans have an early favorite, they almost always go on to win the nomination. With one or two possible exceptions, this has been true since Eisenhower.

The Dems, on the other hand, quite frequently pick people at the last minute. Recent examples include both Clinton and Kerry, who were third-raters until they won in early primaries.

I happen to agree with you, however, that there are a lot of other prospects out there and Rudy is going to have to work for the nomination. McCain hasn't got a chance in hell (it would be like Lieberman running for the Democrat nomination.) However, Romney is gaining ground, and I keep hearing ecstatic people spouting things about Mike Huckabee. Then, there is the Gingrich factor. If Newt runs this will be a whole different ballgame.

Will California matter?
Let's face facts: California is not even vaguely representative of the rest of the nation. For one thing, California is wildly to the left of most of the rest of the country. California Republicans tend to go soft at the brain after a week or two in Sacramento, and begin voting more like a centrist Democrat than a Republican.

For another thing, I do not believe that Republicans in the rest of the nation much care what California thinks. Unlike the Left, Republicans tend to view California as a haven for pornographers, oddballs and socialists. Most Republicans I know (or have spoken with,) say that California is part of an entirely different country, and does not affect the "real" world. If this view is accurate, it seriously diminishes any role California might have in shaping national Republican opinions about the race.

Finally, given the balloting system that TheRadicalModerate discussed, I have to ask how reflective of actual Republican Party members in California this ballot will be.

In the end, I have to question whether an early California primary will really sway voted for the winner, or not.

I don't reallly trust either of them.
To quote Laura Ingraham: "Isn't it ironic that Mitt Romney, the Mormon, is the only Republican front-runner who has been only married to one woman all his wife?"

The circumstances of both Guiliani's and McCain's divorces were shameful.

Use the Lou Gehrig Rule- Don't Trust The Guy that cheats on his wife.
Sixteen or so years ago, we had the first semi-open practitioner of philandering seek the Presidency. The left greeted those of us that see marriage as something more than a temporary contract entered into with a wink and a nod to permanence with disdain-we were supposed to divest ourselves of such quaint, dated and irrelevant standards.

Clinton showed himself to be duplicitous, lubricious and evasive-all the qualities of an accomplished cheat. Then after lying to his wife (for all her repellent qualities and apparent acquiesence-he picked her). Then he lied about everything-why he even told us Saddam had WMD's.

If you can lie to the woman you share a bed with-lying to John and Jane Q. Public will be a cinch. Hence, I don't believe Rudy when he says he'll appoint constructionists to the court or defer on ignoring the second amendment-that's just the "I love you" to get the ring on our finger.

Here's some irony-the current Mrs. Giuliani has ties to Northeastern Pennsylvania-which was home to the young lady that was abandoned at Chappaquidick and the district where in the recent election, former Rep. Don Sherwood lost his seat in part because of his extramarital dalliance.

Cetainly, an otherwise good person can start thinking with the wrong part of the body. To err is human. To do it over and over or to dispose of a spouse with disdain is a character defect.

To date, Bll Clinton has not de jure disposed of his spouse-it may be a charade, held together with political ambition, not love, but they still are married. These guys (and Newt) can't say that thety are still with wife no. 1

Personally, I believe in standards. Standards that apply when its inconvenient and when the candidate is a member of the party where the greater portion of my sympathies reside.

Carter was a nobody until he won in Iowa.

Early in the election year, yeah
But this far out? Bush, Jr wasn't the poll favorite, just the money favorite, this far out in 1999. Usually their isn't a media blitz on this far out either; I think the 2008 election cycle is going to be a nightmare because of it.

Yes, Newt will make it very interesting and Romney has potential.

The Media is like a dog that needs to urinate...
They are whining, pacing, scrabbling on the floor, etc. Why? Because in twenty months, Bush is gone!!! Democrats might be able to replace him! The Master is going to open the door soon! I'm going outside!!!

I would suggest that the early excitement over the 2008 elections is probably a temporary, Bush-specific phenomena rather than a permanent shift in the way elections will be covereed. The primary reason is that election coverage is very expensive and consumes a lot of manpower and materiel. Furthermore, it is profoundly boring for any reporter (with very rare exceptions,) forced into it. These costs will make this phenomena self-limiting.

Your probably right
At least I hope your are. I'm going to get sick of this before January of 2008.

Now he's a well-known anti semite.

And terrorist sympathizer

In the end, it doesn't matter what California thinks...
Of course, the California Electors will actually go to the Democratic candidate in November. Therefore, the Republican candidate urged at the Convention by the California delegates should little influence those delegates living in Middle America.

Further, it should not seem remarkable that California Republicans would warm up to the same personality New York City Republicans elected.

For his part, John McCain has the problem of being entirely too hawkish regarding Iraq when the nation is very much against being over there at all right now. Giuliani will suffer that same problem in November.

If the war should turn around and the administration comes out of this smelling like the Rose Garden (think about that possibility for a moment) then Condoleeza Rice might actually make the best candidate for the Party. (Who else on the executive team would benefit?) Failing that, the Republicans have bupkis.

The occupation of Iraq will not be resolved before it becomes the only issue in 2008. There's simply not enough time.

We might be in a very scary place regarding the Middle East (for example, a regional war) by this time next year and, in such a case, we could need a very strong, steady hand on the wheel as Commander in Chief. And that would mean Colin Powell.

Alternatively, things might not go entirely bad and we might only be really frustrated that our reasonable and successful "regime change" mission turned into pointless, urban butchery in the name of democracy. And a serious failure to mind our own cultural business. We will not want to do any such thing ever again.

However, we do need to remain resolute and forceful in a dangeous world. We cannot become gun shy. But we should make our future military moves rapidly and with the overwhelming force that plays to our strengths. (In any sort of competition you always want to exploit your own unfair advantages.) And then we need to disengage and refuse protracted fair fights with small arms.

That scenerio might also imply (for the Republicans) drafting Colin Powell at the Convention.

When I lived in AZ, I had 3 chances to vote for McCain, and passed on all. I never trusted him, for good reason.

Now he wants to further regulate the internet, and have blogs register as campaign organizations. Liberty? Optional with McCain.

There is POSITIVE choice-Ron Paul
I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. Mr Guiliani is not very strong on individual rights, and is most definitely a big government guy. A phony conservative, there is no good choice between him and McCain, except as you say, to not vote or look for an alternative.

And Ron Paul is that guy. He has written and voted to support indivual rights, constitutionally limited government since his first election to congress. He opposes our military adventurism abroad, and the welfare state at home. He thinks we ought to eliminate the "anchor baby" phenomenom that allows illegal aliens safe haven here. To me it is a strong plus that he criticizes and has criticized GB II from the time he was elected. I have followed Ron for almost 30 years, and he is the real deal-not a phony like so many pols. If freedom is to survive in the US, it may depend upon the election of Dr. Paul and others like him.
For Ron on about any topic, go to, "Columnists," "Ron Paul" for archives of his regularly posted editorial comment.

Going to be a very strange election...
The top three Republican canidates don't really stand a chance of generating enthusiasm from the Republican base...

1. McCain, nevermind the gang of 14.. when he attacked the religious right and called them agants of intolerance he pretty much blew his chances as a Republican canidate.

2. Romney, most conservative Christians do not view Mormons as Christians. He might as well be a Scientologist or Moonie.

3. Giuliani is pro gun-control, pro choice, advokates civil unions and domestic partner rights for gays, supports stem cell research, and supports a path to citizenship for illegals... Lieberman would make a better Republican canidate.

They may be going to concede this one...
They got nothing this time. Our continued presence in Iraq has America too angry for any of our "standard issue" Republicans to get elected President this time around. The last time America was this motivated to take the Republicans out of power we enjoyed four years of Jimmy Carter.

Rather than to agonize about the lost cause the Republicans face, it is probably more important to us that the Democrats should put up a genuine world leader and try not to destroy themselves during the Primaries. Of course, this process is already turning bitter.

These Democrats all started running for President (and editing their school newspapers) in the 8th grade. And their entire campaign drill still feels like it.

Democracy, as an institution, has notably failed to deliver a strong central government for many nations. It seems important that the Democrats (and the liberal media) should stop acting like children and behave responsibly. America has some real challenges that we do not yet know how to meet.

The Chinese, for their part, do not bother with all this foolishness. Their political leaders don't get elected. They get promoted. We could beat the Russians (philosophically) and the Europeans (economically). But such competition with the Chinese and the Japanese should be another matter. The Koreans and the Indians are also not slouches. America is no longer the only capitalistic game in town. And the rules of global financial economics are changing. There will never be another Plaza Accord (1985) to take a global rival apart as we did to Japan twenty years ago (and as we would like to do to China today). Not going to happen. We need to fight this one straight up.

We are indeed the biggest kid in the schoolyard this year. And we have (recklessly) played the bully when it suited us. But some of those kids we have been pushing around are going to grow a lot over the Summer. We could have a real surprise next Fall. Don't think it could not happen to happens all the time.

Newt Gingrich...
Yes. I think we would need to impeach President McCain really fast to keep him from doing something truly stupid.

Newt Gingrich? He is probably doing the most good right where he is (bright color commentator working in the media). But this might become his moment if the Republicans find themselves in real distress next year. It would be nice if some one of these guys would be both electable and great Presidential timber.

Manuevering for influence
You are probably correct about the main reason that California will have little or no impact on the Republican nominating process: We will not get their electors anyway.

However, I think that the reasoning of Californians goes a little farther than that. Californians will now have a much more important position in picking Democratic nominees.

He keeps the debate on high ground and is doing a fine job right where he is. I would vote for him if he chose a decent running mate.

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