January 30, 2008
Giuliani Bows Out
Several sources are reporting that Mayor Rudy Giuliani will drop out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination today and endorse John McCain:
Rudy Giuliani, who bet his presidential hopes on Florida only to come in third, prepared to quit the race Tuesday and endorse his friendliest rival, John McCain.So ends one of the most puzzling presidential runs in recent memory. As recently as 5 weeks ago, Guiliani had a comfortable lead in national polls in the race for the nomination. But according to many, bad strategy, bad tactics, and in the end, a bad candidate doomed his efforts to failure:
The former New York mayor stopped short of announcing he was stepping down, but delivered a valedictory speech that was more farewell than fight-on.
A senior Giuliani official told NBC that he will endorse McCain on Wednesday in California, where Republicans are set to debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Giuliani finished a distant third to winner McCain and second-place finisher Mitt Romney.
"I'm proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ads and cynical spin," he said as supporters with tight smiles crowded behind him.
As Mr. Giuliani ponders his political mortality, many advisers and political observers point to the hubris and strategic miscalculations that plagued his campaign.Outside of John McCain, whose candidacy temporarily imploded last spring, Giuliani was the best known candidate in the field. He replaced McCain as front runner until the nation's focus turned to actual voting. And that's where Rudy came up short. He is a man not without ability but never seemed comfortable among conservatives. To his credit, he didn't pander too much to the base (except on immigration) and he kept his principles intact. He ran as a pro-choice Republican in an anti-abortion party. This made him an anethema to social conservatives.
He allowed a tight coterie of New York aides, none with national political experience, to run much of his campaign. He accumulated a fat war chest — he had $16.6 million on hand at the end of September, more than Mitt Romney ($9.5 million) or Senator John McCain ($3.2 million) — but spent vast sums on direct mail instead of building strong organizations on the ground in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Indeed, his fourth-place finish in New Hampshire, a state where he was once considered competitive, provided an early indication of his vulnerability. And, curiously, this man with the pugnacious past declined to toss more than light punches at his Republican opponents.
In interviews Tuesday, even before he gave a concession speech in which he spoke of his campaign in the past tense, Mr. Giuliani described his strategic mistakes, suggesting that his opponents had built up too much momentum in earlier primaries. But this is a rhetorical sleight of hand; he in fact competed hard in New Hampshire, to remarkably poor effect.
But his fiscal conservatism and strong anti-terrorism rhetoric endeared him to many on the right. And if a Republican is elected president, I hope that he can find room in his administration for a man with Rudy's gifts.