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January 01, 2008

Giuliani Cooked? & Other Campaign News

Cratering all over. Mark Steyn:

The striking feature of the recent polls is, regardless of which state is hot for Huck or Mitt or McCain, for Rudy they're all trending the same way. As electoral markets mature - ie, as primary day looms - informed voters grow more antipathetic to the Mayor. That's to say, his numbers are worst in Iowa, marginally less catastrophic in New Hampshire, out of contention in Michigan and South Carolina - but they've slid dramatically everywhere roughly in proportion to the imminence of the big vote. It requires a lot of blind faith to believe that Florida and beyond will be immune to this trend after a month in which the early winners and runners-up are getting all the media and Giuliani isn't even part of the narrative.

Huck's fading too, and if Mitt is anywhere close to him in Iowa, poll-wise, his superior organization will probably eke him out a victory.

Fred, meanwhile, just might get that third-place Iowa finish which can be spun, fairly plausibly, as a victory of sorts. At least it would confirm Fred's basic viability, something that many are doubting at the moment.

And how is Huckabee's I-won't-run-negative-ads-but-let-me-show-them-so-you-will-run-them-for-free gambit working? This NYT article has short video of the key moment, where the jaded pointy-heads of the press corps have a good chuckle at the Huckster's shameless, insulting hypocrisy.

But reporters aren't Iowan caucusers -- and guess what? It seems that in Iowa this stunt is actually playing well. "Thank you for your positive ads," one old lady says to Huckabee.

I don't like putting down an entire state, but Iowa seems... what's the word? Stupid. Or, if not quite stupid, so hopelessly naive and gullible as to be taken in by hypocritical ploys that your average 10-year-old would see through... assuming he hadn't grown up in Iowa, but rather some more cynical, cosmopolitan place, like Butte, Montana.

A new NBC poll shows McCain now leading Romney in New Hampshire 31-25.

And here's something. The Republican who asked Fred Thompson about his desire to be president -- eliciting the Dowdified quote about Thompson supposedly admitting he lacks "fire in the belly" -- was apparently well satisfied by his answer. He asked the question because, like many, he had initially been hopeful about a Thompson campaign but his interest had waned after the long wait for him to declare and then his decidedly uninspiring early appearances. So he asked the question to satisfy himself that the candidate he wanted to support really wanted the job at all.

The answer was exactly what I hope it would. It was a great answer. At points during the answer I was ashamed I had asked the question. I knew the answer. Do I really want to support a candidate who lives to be President? Is that type of candidate really interested in serving the nation or serving his own self-interest? Sen. Thompson positioned himself as willing to serve, not for an enlarged ego, but out of a deep desire to serve his nation. He has desire to make our nation better for his children and grandchildren. Far from a slick Branson like presentation, he presented himself as a dedicated patriot willing to serve if we, the American people, were willing to have him do so. He refuses to be a President under false pretenses. He is not leading us into a shotgun relationship. He understands that under the founderís concept of the social contract, both parties must be fully aware of the terms of the contract when entering into the agreement. If the American people do not want him to be President, he is not going to trick us into agreeing to him. As I said, the answer was refreshing. It was a great answer.

I went and saw Gov. Romney that night. Do not misunderstand me; if Gov. Romney is the Republican nominee for President, I will support him. His presentation was an event. His hair and teeth were perfect. He smiled. He pressed the flesh. His wife glowed as she stood next to him. Make no mistake; Gov. Romney wants to be President of the United States. Maybe that is why I do not trust him. In the end, Sen. Thompson was right, the next President should be someone who wants to serve the nation, not someone who wants to be President. Far from the press coverage that stated Sen. Thompson does not have the desire to be President, his desire is to serve the American people. He believes the best way to do that is to be President. If he is not elected President, he will not be disappointed. He will find some other way to serve the American people, just like he has throughout his career. After listening to Sen. Thompson and thinking about what he said, I can only conclude he is the best candidate for the job.

It was in fact a pretty good answer, spinning a frequent knock on him into an actual reason to vote for him. Annoying, then, for the media -- including many Republican-leaning members of the pundit class -- to have spun a good answer as somehow being a catastrophic admission of a fatal flaw.

Objectively, no serious analyst or commentator can say Fred's answer was anything short of brilliant. In fact, it was perhaps the greatest watershed political statement since the Magna Carta.

Well, that's just silly. But anyone spinning this answer as an admission that Thompson lacks "fire in the belly" obviously didn't read the three or four paragraphs of the answer.

I can see why they didn't bother, though. After all, it's not like their jobs include reading three paragraphs before making sharp judgments about those paragraphs. They're professional writers and commentators, not professional readers, after all.

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posted by Ace at 05:11 PM

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