Florida Strategy Part Of Larger Giuliani Failure

Charles Hill talked to the Yale Daily News about the disappointing finish he experienced as a member of Rudy Giuliani’s team, Hill, one of the policy stars Rudy attracted for his advisory boards in the presidential primary campaign, agrees with the conventional wisdom that the Florida strategy was a mistake. However, he argues convincingly that it was a secondary strategic error:

The candidate’s focus on Florida — at the expense of campaigning in the early primaries — was a mistake, Hill said in an interview with the News on Friday. But it was also part of a larger failure on the part of Giuliani’s communications staff to engage the media and, through them, the American public, Hill said.
Hill pointed to a foreign-policy speech Giuliani gave in September as emblematic of the campaign’s inability to draw attention to its candidate.
“Giuliani gave a speech in London that was a very serious and impressive speech,” Hill said. “It got very good press in London, and got no press here at all. Things that were done were not reported very well, and that, I think, was the fault of the communications team itself.”
These two problems, combined with debate formats that “trivialized and demeaned” and “swallowed … any attempt to stand out,” Hill said, left Giuliani with almost no public exposure.
“When the media was gearing up and becoming totally focused on the early primaries, they gave Giuliani almost zero coverage because he wasn’t a factor,” he said.

Giuliani needed to give that speech in the US if he expected the media here to cover it; that was a mistake that could easily have been rectified. Otherwise, though, Hill diagnoses the problem accurately. The campaign’s strategists never appeared to care whether Rudy got national media attention. He remained in Florida and turned into a sideshow as Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and finally John McCain provided themes and story arcs that they could use.
Hill blames the communication team for the failure. As someone who worked with the communications team on a regular basis, I don’t agree. They tried to work as assertively and professionally as possible to get the campaign message out to the traditional and New Media outlets, but the candidate himself didn’t extend much effort. While McCain held weekly blogger calls through bust and flush, and Huckabee worked magic in interviews, and even the more corporate Romney reached out to talk radio especially, we just didn’t see enough of Rudy, especially in the final weeks of the campaign.
And that was a shame, because Rudy’s best asset has always been Rudy. Having Hill and Steve Forbes and other high-wattage surrogates were initially impressive, Rudy didn’t appear to realize that he was the real attraction of the campaign. No one could have energized the campaign and found support like the candidate himself, but he left his best asset on the bench.

The Way Primaries Work

We seem to have people who still misunderstand the primary system, both in our CapQ community and in the national political movements on the Right. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had grand ultimatums from a couple of factions which have demanded a particular type of nominee, or else the faction leaders claim they will depart the Republican Party. A few commenters have asserted the same ultimatum in the comments on this blog. It shows a lack of understanding not just of the primary process but also in how to build the necessary political coalitions that result in agendas getting addressed.
First, primaries serve as a testing mechanism for the various factions that make up the major political parties. Each faction gets a chance to convince a standard-bearer to run for President (as well as Senator, Governor at the state level, and so on). Primary campaigns allow these groups to make their best argument to the people with whom they are most closely aligned. The primary elections themselves test for the support within the party for the factions as well as the candidates themselves. It shows which group can pull together the largest political coalition, the strongest constituency within the party, as well as the most successful candidate for a general election.
It’s a good process. If someone cannot win primaries among political allies, they’re certain to lose general elections against political opponents. It allows the major political parties to produce the most successful candidate so that the entire alliance has a good chance to affect public policy.
However, it relies on all of the members of that alliance to act responsibly, both during and after the primary process. Those groups that want a certain kind of candidate to win the primary election need to find that candidate and support them in the primaries. They need to make the case to the party that their candidate makes the best national case for election. If they can’t do that, or if their candidate does not succeed, then they need to honor their alliance and go with the candidate which does succeed — because to do otherwise makes them unreliable partners on whom the party should never rely.
Let’s take a look at a particular example. Richard Viguerie sent an e-mail last week that stated in part:

As you may know, I was part of a group of over 40 conservative leaders who met recently and resolved not to vote for Republican candidates who are pro-abortion.
We will present the petition to the members of the Republican National Committee, the President and Republican members of Congress, media and blogs, and many other Republican leaders. It will be a powerful warning to those in a position of influence that, if the GOP turns against unborn children, a significant portion of its base will not vote for Republican candidates.

That, frankly, is absurd. The RNC, the President, and members of Congress do not select the party’s nominee. The Republican voters in each state do that. What good does a petition do? Why doesn’t Viguerie simply put all of that effort into actually supporting a candidate, rather than issue petitions aimed at people who have nothing to do with this process? Is Viguerie demanding an appointed candidate, one that comes from a smoke-filled back room rather than an honest primary process?
Along with the splintering rhetoric from James Dobson and others, it shows an immaturity and a complete rejection of the primary process. It’s a form of extortion; select a candidate despite the voters’ own preferences, or they walk out of the party. If the party nominates someone who cannot win a majority among their own voters without the threat of extortion, what chance do they have in the general election? None.
The silliness extends to the general election. On the radio shows I do, I hear the same refrain I heard in 2006 — “We’ll stay home and teach the party a lesson.” What lesson — that its allies are completely unreliable? That those who claim to speak for a majority would rather marginalize themselves and the rest of the agenda on the Right rather than accept the conclusion of the party’s own voters in the primaries? That’s not democracy, it’s petulance. All elections are cost-benefit choices, at all levels. If people can’t understand that much, they have no business leading any kind of political movement.
Support your primary candidate passionately and with positive assertions of their policy stands. Once the primaries are over, do some intelligent and mature cost-benefit analysis instead of indulging in hurt feelings and childishness. That goes especially for those who came out of Salt Lake with dire warnings about third-party efforts if they don’t get the candidate they want, especially since none of them appeared prepared to offer a specific candidate in the first place.
UPDATE: Shaun Mullen doesn’t like the caucus process, as he explains at The Moderate Voice. I’m not terribly enamored of caucuses as opposed to primary elections, either, and I think Shaun confuses the two a little in this post. It’s a good read nonetheless.

Federal Charges Against Hillary Fundraiser

Norman Hsu’s life just got a lot more complicated. Earlier today, federal prosecutors in New York announced that the filing of criminal charges against Hsu, who still has yet to serve a three-year term for fraud first imposed in 1992:

Hsu was charged with orchestrating a $60 million “Ponzi Scheme” and engaging in widespread campaign finance violations. …
Hsu has been a key Democratic Party fundraiser in recent years, donating large amounts including to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Federal authorities investigated Hsu’s business dealings as prominent Democrats have been scrambling to return his campaign donations. Clinton has said she will return $850,000 the convicted scam artist had helped raise for her presidential campaign.
Hsu is in custody on an outstanding fraud warrant in California. Reports surfaced this summer raising questions if Hsu was illegally funneling money into campaigns through third parties.

The complaint shows that the feds mean business. They have constructed a case that purports the theft of “tens of millions of dollars” in what may be the biggest private con exposed in the US. As Joel Rosenman has already revealed, the con game relied on investor greed and lack of any diligence in convincing people that they could gain large returns over a short term by participating in loans. The initial investments showed a large return, and only after Hsu set the hook did he abscond with the big investments.
The payoff? $60 million. That makes his $2 million in political contributions look like chump change — or perhaps insurance.
After all, where did Hsu send his political money? He supported Attorneys General in New York and California, where he had built financial bases. Hsu stuffed former AG Eliot Spitzer’s coffers when Spitzer ran for Governor of New York. He became a Hillraiser, pouring contributions through all sorts of people of modest means. The complaint also specifically alleges that Hsu pressured his victims to donate large amounts of money in order to remain in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, meaning he was able to launder his fraudulent profits through them to Democratic candidates and organizations.
Victim-1 is almost certainly Joel Rosenman, who has already acknowledged giving Hsu $40 million. It turns out that Hsu gave him $40 million in post-dated checks — but the account only had $83,000 left in it. Victim-3 has yet to come forward, but apparently has lost $20 million in the bridge-loan scheme. All victims got pressured into political donations directed to Hsu’s favored candidates and organizations.
Don’t forget that Norman Hsu has $6 million in his checking account as of his latest capture. We know where at least some of the money went.
With a federal prosecution looming on the horizon, one that could put him in prison for life, it will be interesting to see whether Hsu starts singing. Someone staked him for his initial confidence games, and for some purpose. Will Hsu crack?

Californians Willing To Forego Winner-Take-All

A proposed referendum to replace the current winner-take-all system in California for presidential elections has a strong plurality in favor, according to a Field poll. Voters asked whether they support allocating Electoral College votes on a proportional basis agreed 47%-35% that the current system should be jettisoned — and Democrats were as likely to support it as oppose it. (via Memeorandum)
At Heading Right, I look at the two ways in which Field pollsters posed this question. The results will surprise readers who might have assumed that heavily-Democratic California would consider this proposition. California may benefit from this new allocation — and it may be the next political wave that starts at the Golden State’s shore.

CQ Radio Scoop: Fred Thompson Statement

blog radio
In an exclusive scoop at BlogTalkRadio, Fred Thompson will make a statement at 3:30 pm CT today through an additional show for CQ Radio. Be sure to listen live, or catch the podcast that will follow.
If you want to embed the player on your own site for this show, go to the extended entry and copy the code there. Just replace the () characters with the open-close brackets normally used for HTML scripts!

Add to iTunes
UPDATE: Here’s the link to my show, where I played the statement twice — and if you want to stream it separately, you can do that here.

Continue reading “CQ Radio Scoop: Fred Thompson Statement”

Floridians Had No Problems Voting

According to a post-election Quinnipiac poll, Floridians reported no problems casting votes in this year’s election and overwhelmingly had confidence that their votes were counted properly:

Most Florida voters had no problem casting a ballot on Election Day and many say they are confident their vote was counted correctly, a poll shows.
More than nine in 10 respondents said they had no problems, other than having to wait in long lines, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Voters felt strong confidence in the results, with 75% saying they had very or somewhat confident their votes were counted properly. Predictably, this broke out along partisan lines. Only 5% of Republicans expressed a lack of confidence — but 42% of Democrats felt uneasy about whether their ballot received proper handling. Since all ballots look exactly the same and both parties vote at the same booths, the only explanation for this discrepancy has to be the four-year campaign by Democrats to undermine public confidence in voting whenever and wherever they lost. They’ve managed to dispirit Democrats, and if they continue their whining, may kill their turnout altogether.

Ed Rendell Puts The Anal In Analysis

Jim Geraghty at the Kerry Spot points out an example of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell’s brilliance on the Paula Zahn show last night. In discussing the results of the presidential election, the Democrat offered this jaw-dropping analysis (emphasis mine):

ZAHN: The president also relied on inside-the-beltway talent. Was the difference Karl Rove and he just had a better strategy? It’s not like the president didn’t rely on people who live in that neck of the woods.
RENDELL: Yes, although I think the Republicans do a much better job of listening to the grassroots, of listening to the constituents, of listening to people from all different geographic areas, and we don’t.
Now, look, I’m not going to wring my hands over this election. If 9/11 had never happened, John Kerry would be president-elect today. I have no doubt about that.

Wow — what a breakthrough in political analysis! If only history hadn’t happened, John Kerry would be president! Rendell fails to mention that the Democrats had actually been informed of the 9/11 attacks. Supposedly, if they thought this event might affect the election, they could have developed policies that would help voters trust that Kerry would actually stand up to the terrorists and their apologists.
You know, it’s just a thought. But then, I don’t have Ed Rendell’s legendary analytic skills.
Here’s more of Ed Rendell’s political insight:
* If the Republicans had hired better burglars in 1972, Spiro Agnew would have become President in 1976.
* If Teheran didn’t exist, Jimmy Carter would have been re-elected to the presidency despite not having been elected in the first place.
* If Ronald Reagan had actually gotten the lead for Casablanca, Fred MacMurray would have become President in the 1980s, ushering in the Golden Age Of Sweaters.
* If George H.W. Bush hadn’t tried so hard to push hearing-impaired voters to the polls (“read my lips”), Bill Clinton would still have been pursuing tawdry affairs from female subordinates. He just would have done it in the executive offices of a law firm, where that kind of thing belongs.
* If Al Gore had actually created the Internet, John Kerry wouldn’t have had a chance to run for President until 2008.
* If Ed Rendell had anything interesting to say, he wouldn’t be appearing on the Paula Zahn show.

Kerry Flip-Flops On Concession

For those who argued that an official recount demand from the Ohio Democratic Party did not implicate John Kerry by association, the Kerry campaign removed all doubt by joining in a legal fight to require all counties in Ohio to abide by the recount demands:

Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign asked an Ohio judge yesterday to allow it to join a legal fight there over whether election officials in one county may sit out the state’s impending recount.
A pair of third-party presidential candidates, who said that reports of problems at the polls on Election Day are not being addressed, are forcing the Buckeye State to recount its entire presidential vote. But David A. Yost, a lawyer for Delaware County, just outside Columbus, won a temporary restraining order last week blocking any recount there. He told the Columbus Dispatch that a second count would be a poor use of county resources. President Bush won the mostly Republican area handily, unofficial results show.
Lawyers for the Kerry campaign asked to join Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik and the National Voting Rights Institute in the fight to force the county to participate in the recount. “If there’s going to be a recount in Ohio, we don’t want it to exclude Delaware County or any other county that might decide to follow Delaware County’s lead,” Kerry lawyer Dan Hoffheimer said. “It should be a full, fair and accurate recount.”

I notice that they’re not asking for “full, fair, and accurate” recounts in states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, where the margin of Kerry’s victories were much smaller than Bush’s in Ohio. This leaves no doubt that Kerry intends on setting himself up as the frontrunner in 2008 by attempting to delegitimize Bush’s victory in the media. You can expect the Kerry campaign to support the recount requests by Badnarik and Cobb in New Mexico and Nevada as well.

Miami Herald Unravels Florida Paranoia

CNN reports that the Miami Herald investigated the latest “stolen election” theories regarding Florida in 2004, specifically that fraud occurred in Democratic counties that wound up going for George Bush overwhelmingly over John Kerry. The Herald’s recount of ballots from these counties will disappoint the tinfoil-hat brigade on the Left that remain convinced that Kerry really won Florida:

A newspaper’s review of ballots cast in three north Florida counties where registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans showed just what officials reported: The counties’ voters did on Election Day as they often do, voting for a Republican for president.
The Miami Herald review goes against Internet-fed rumors questioning whether there was a conspiracy against Sen. John Kerry in those counties. …
Reporters for the newspaper went over more than 17,000 optical scan ballots cast in three rural counties mentioned by doubters: Suwannee, Lafayette and Union. All three are overwhelmingly Democratic in registration, but chose President Bush.

No one has requested an official recount of the ballots in any Florida county, but the Herald got permission from the county registrars to review the ballots themselves. In all three counties, they found at most a couple of dozen ballots that had been discarded due to the optical-scan systems’ inability to read them, although the Herald felt that in some cases the voter intent could still be determined. The vote counts only changed a few votes in either direction, making clear that the results announced by Florida reflected the actual intent of the voters there.
Perhaps this will be enough to silence the Roswell faction of the Left regarding stolen elections, although I doubt that. It should, however, convince the rest of America that these people are delusional and somewhat dangerous to follow. They seem intent on undermining confidence in the electoral process either from a form of mental illness which makes them unable to recognize reality, or out of Machiavellian ambition to delegitimize American democracy. In either case, we need to make sure they remain marginalized.

The Victim Party Continues Its March From Reality

The Democratic Party continues its crusade for victimhood and the further poisoning of the political environment, asking for a recount of the presidential election in Ohio while making wishy-washy allegations of fraud:

The Ohio Democratic Party announced this week that it is supporting a third-party-led effort to force the battleground state to recount its presidential vote.
The organization, whose decision is expected to give more legitimacy to the recount push, complained that Ohio voters faced long lines at the polls Nov. 2, that some voting machines malfunctioned and that some absentee ballots were never delivered.

If that’s the basis for their request, then someone needs to explain how recounting the ballots that were cast addresses any of those concerns. It’s a further attempt by the Democrats to make Ohio the new Florida, giving them an extension on the martyrdom on which they’ve based their entire political strategy for the past four years.
Bush won the popular vote in Ohio by 136,000 votes in an election where Republicans turned out in slightly greater percentage than Democrats. With that margin of victory, the odds of any irregularity in the count making even a noticeable dent in Bush’s lead approach infinity. And yet here we have the Democrats again, claiming again that an election has been stolen from them, simply because they cannot face the fact that they nominated a lousy candidate who, again, ran a lousy campaign. Their next step will be to file suit to keep Ohio’s Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell from certifying the results, a replay of Florida 2000.
If the Democrats think that they can build party support by turning the Buckeye State into the poster child for their victimology, perhaps they should look at their prototype again. They narrowly lost Florida in 2000 (a result confirmed by every recount done after the election), but after four years of holding the Sunshine State up as their Holy Land of martyrdom, they lost it by five points this year and coughed up a critical seat in the Senate. If they want to besmirch Ohio’s reputation for the conduct of elections, they may well regret it in 2008. And if they want to turn every election they lose over to the lawyers, the Democrats had better get used to being in the minority for a very long time.
UPDATE: For those who claim, as DSB does in the comments, that the Kerry campaign has nothing to do with this, please try reading the article:

The Kerry campaign said it intends to monitor the proceedings for irregularities. “We didn’t ask for it,” said Dan Hoffheimer, the campaign’s legal counsel. “But since it’s apparently going to happen, we want to make sure it gets done right.”

Besides, I didn’t argue that the Kerry campaign was descending into victimological madness — I said the Democratic Party was doing so. In fact, until this update, I didn’t even mention the Kerry campaign in this post — but isn’t Kerry a Democrat? And if he opposed the recount nuttiness, why is the remnant of his campaign jumping into it?