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January 24, 2008

What Rudy Needs Tonight

Rudy Giuliani needs a breakout performance in tonight's debate to reverse what looks like a precipitous slide into oblivion in the state he deemed crucial to his fortunes. Polls have Rudy anywhere from a statistical tie for the lead to far back in fourth place, but most of the trendlines have gone in the wrong direction. CNN takes the more pessimistic view:

Two new polls out Thursday show Giuliani competing for third in Florida -- tied with barely-present Mike Huckabee and behind John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Giuliani, who has finished in the single digits in every contest so far, largely skipped the early voting states to focus on Florida and the Super Tuesday states voting on February 5.

The former New York mayor once led in Florida and most national polls, but his plummeting numbers are causing some to question his strategy.

Giuliani's strategy created a problem that no one on his team foresaw: media apathy. Since Giuliani didn't compete for votes in the early primary states, the national news media simply lost interest in Rudy and instead focused on the more active challengers. Rudy compounded the problem in the debates during that period, barely challenging the other candidates and sometimes sounding more like an analyst than a candidate himself.

The MS-NBC debate tonight will give Rudy an opportunity to reassert himself in this race. He has to engage aggressively without seeming to be mean-spirited. He has to go after John McCain on his tax stands over the last few years, and resume the offense against Mitt Romney on his consistency. Most of all, he has to lay out a positive case as the one man who can hold together the conservative coalition by showcasing his work in New York City and his vision for transforming the federal government in the same way.

It will not be easy. Romney has some credibility himself on executive leadership, and Romney wound up getting the best of Giuliani when they tangled on immigration in a previous debate. No one seems anxious to attack McCain, perhaps out of respect for his status as a genuine war hero and his long service to the country, but Rudy will have to find a way to do so effectively as well as respectfully.

If Rudy can't assert himself tonight, he will have little chance of winning anything, let alone Florida. He has to have some momentum and credibility, and he won't have the luxury of getting it by default.

Tonight, we'll live-blog the debate on Heading Right starting before 8 pm CT, and we will have our traditional post-debate wrap-up at Debate Central at 10 pm CT.


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» GOP Debate tonight from Macsmind
Just a note, I’ll be with fellow Heading Right Blog Talk Radio hosts who will be live blogging the GOP debate here in Florida tonight beginning at 9:30pm. Additionally I will be joining Capt Ed and Rick Moran from Right Wing Nuthouse over at De... [Read More]

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