Romney and Giuliani delegate operations fail in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Secretary of State just released the list of filed delegates. Delegates then need to get signatures to get on the ballots. But… John McCain and Mike Huckabee filed 40 delegates. Fred Thompson 8. Mitt Romney 7. And Rudy Giuliani 0.

There are two stories here. The first one is that Romney’s delegate operation failed. They have the Governor, one of the delegates. The head of Students for Romney is one of the delegates. And that was all they could get. And this is a pro-choice, highly Italian state. Why didn’t they file?

This sounds like wheels coming off an organization.

Steve Forbes, Rudy, Romney, and the economy

(Cross-posted from Redstate)

Two days ago (technical problems delayed this) in Manchester, New Hampshire, I sat down with Steve Forbes, and we talked about his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, and his thoughts on the economic records of the other candidates. As a supporter of Rudy Giuliani’s he has the most to say about what he likes about Rudy, but it was interesting to me that he ripped pretty hard into Mitt Romney’s record.

The next step of the Presidential race will turn to Michigan and South Carolina. Michigan is a big northern state in, perhaps, the worst economic state in the country, the old rust belt. Voters are going to want to know what can be done for the economy. This is different than taxes, which was an important issue in New Hampshire. In Michigan, the question on voters’ mind will be "who will create jobs?" Mitt Romney’s record is weaker than is generally assumed. The Club for Growth is already up with ads attacking Huckabee, although I suspect that this is more press release. John McCain, as a Senator, has his voting record and new policy proposals to defend and propose. Erick and Neil have more on that.

South Carolina is more complicated. I will be back with more about that.

Substance-free Drudge attack on Rudy; Same for McCain?

The day of the CNN/YouTube debate, Matt Drudge, handmaiden of  Mitt Romney’s campaign, raised the issue that became known as "Shag Fund." The claim was that Rudy Giuliani had improperly hid expenses for visiting his then girlfriend. Well, it turns out that it just wasn’t true. Powerline and Captain’s Quarters have the details. Total exoneration from the New York Times.

In other words, Drudge pushed a bogus story at a time that was quite opportune for the Romney campaign.

Yesterday, Drudge pushed a story on John McCain. Drudge first claimed that an NYT story was in the works. Then he claimed that it would publish tomorrow. McCain was forced to answer a question. What happened?

No story. Nothing happened in the Times. And, in fact, it was clear from the facts Drudge provided that no story would be there. No substance, as was made clear in the Washington Post story today.

That’s the story guys. Matt Drudge is a Romney shill.

Rudy pulling out of NH?

The Nashua Telegraph is suggesting that Rudy Giuliani is pulling television ads from New Hampshire media markets. If the theory is right that Rudy splits votes with John McCain, then this should help McCain in NH. Presumably Rudy is going to spend the money in South Carolina or Florida, where he is struggling. Anyways, all the details from the Telegraph:

Pulling out

Giuliani is moving resources (read $$$) out of the New Hampshire media market.

Giuliani scaled way back on his TV buys on Boston stations for this week compared to last week.

It’s important to note that Giuliani didn’t alter his high level of ad volume on WMUR.

Romney leads (what a shock!) the Republican field with about $250,000 a week on WMUR. Giuliani is in the range of $180,000 a week and McCain is third with roughly $120,000.

Huckabee began his first New Hampshire advertising buy with about $40,000 a week on WMUR.

In the case of Boston TV however, records confirm Giuliani’s team purchased one large number of TV spots and then trimmed it back or canceled it six days later.

The examples:

• WHDH, Channel 7 – $102,745 in ads bought Dec. 5; changed to $40,700 worth of ads bought Dec. 11.

• WLVI, sister station, Channel 56 – $20,300 in ads bought Dec. 5, that ad buy canceled Dec. 11.

In other cases, the per-week spending on other Boston stations previously by the Giuliani campaign will be considerably less than it had been.

Other examples:

• WFXT, Fox – Had spent $67,000 a week before; now $20,000 a week.

• WCVB, Channel 5 – Previous ad total cut by 50 percent.

• WBZ, Channel 4 – Cut by 50 percent.

• WSBK – Cut by 50 percent.

This could be part of a strategy to shift more ad money to Florida, where some polls show his large lead slipping, or to Michigan, which votes a week after New Hampshire and is Romney’s birth state.

An attempt to reach the Giuliani campaign for comment was unsuccessful.

Giuliani will be back on Monday with one public stop at Goss International in Dover. Spies report that Foster’s Daily Democrat has secured the first editorial board interview with Giuliani on the same day.

End of Rudy’s Florida strategy?

A bomb just dropped in the Presidential race. Rudy Giuliani was going to win the nomination by placing or showing in , but not winning, a bunch of early primary states. And then he was going to win in Florida. But a new Rasmussen poll, if verified with more polling, would explode that theory:

Rasmussen GOP Florida Primary

  • Mike Huckabee 27% (9%)
  • Mitt Romney 23% (19%)
  • Rudy Giuliani 19% (27%)
  • Fred Thompson 9% (16%)
  • John McCain 6% (10%)
  • Ron Paul 4% (5%)
  • Some other candidate 2% (2%)

If he is in third and Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney have momentum in other states, it is hard to see how Rudy wins Florida. It seems highly unlikely that 5 losses in a row would end in a Tsunami Tuesday victory.

The next 3 weeks are going to be very interesting.

Huck rises, Rudy slides, Romney’s strategy breaks down

Well, this race is certainly in flux isn’t it? Two sets of polls

The first is Rasmussen’s daily trackers for a little over a week. The second is RCP’s averages for the national race from Wednesday, December 5th. RCP messed up the dates a little. Rasmussen should have been at the top, rather than the bottom. But something is clear. Giuliani is experiencing a steady drop. Huckabee is rising.

There are a lot of basic assumptions in this race that get thrown out at this point.

The first one is that Rudy can survive to Feb. 5th without solid victories in early primary states. The WSJ makes this argument:

If the trend continues and Giuliani looses his national lead, he would find it harder to raise funds. It would also greatly complicate — perhaps even doom — his unorthodox primary strategy.

Giuliani is betting he can survive losses in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, where polls show him trailing Mitt Romney and other candidates, and come back with a convincing win in Florida on Jan. 29.

Then if all goes as planned, he would put the nomination in the bag by winning a series of delegate-rich big states, including his native New York and neighboring New Jersey, in the “Tsunami Tuesday” round of primaries on Feb. 5.

 That would seem great for Mitt Romney, the Rudy Giuliani challenger. But not so much. I think that this dynamic of Rudy falling and Huckabee rising creates a very serious challenge for Romney. You see, his proposition has long been that conservatives should rally around him because he can defeat Rudy. But if Rudy is … falling … then that argument goes out the window. You see, here’s what Romney surrogate Jim Bopp had to say:

"Either a conservative is going to emerge" with the financial and organizational power to take on Giuliani, predicted Bopp, or "Giuliani is going to be the nominee."

Ummm. It seems that a conservative is emerging — Mike Huckabee — and that Rudy may well not be the nominee. I am not willing to shut the door on anyone yet, but if the Huckabee guys started making that argument ("We are up in Iowa and nationwide. What do you mean Rudy is going to win?") it would be very hard for the Romney guys to push back. You see, part 2 of Romney’s argument was:

Bopp‘s rhetoric was aimed not just at Giuliani but also at former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who has made up considerable ground on Romney in recent week here in the Hawkeye State. "I love Mike Huckabee," Bopp said, quickly adding: "Something I know for sure [is] he does not have the resources to compete." Boiled down, Bopp‘s argument is simple: You might like Huckabee best but he can’t win. So, vote for the guy — Romney — you like second best.

Well. It seems like, on the day before the big Mormon speech, the Romney guys might need a new rationale for how they get conservatives.

And the Rudy guys, without being the frontrunner, may have a real problem on their hands.

Grover on Rudy and Huckabee

So much happened yesterday, and I was away from a computer for most of the day, that I was left nearly speechless.

Perhaps the most interesting was Grover Norquist’s comments on Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Grover’s whole schtick for over a decade has been his tax pledge. You sign the pledge to not raise taxes. And then he beats you up and calls you a liar if you do. More likely, your future primary opponent beats you up and calls you a liar. It has never been obvious to me that the same logic applies to a Presidential candidate, but Grover has tried.

One of the startling things in the last debate was the number of candidates who have not signed. That seemed to represent a tangible weakening of his stature. Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson, 3 of the 5 top-tier candidates refused to sign. Mitt Romney flip-flopped to sign. And Mike Huckabee’s signature seemed …. dubious? But the story seemed clear. Grover would have to go with Romney because of the combination of Huckabee’s record and signing the pledge. But that’s not how it is playing out.

First of all, Grover defends Huckabee to the Christian Broadcasting Network:

He has signed the pledge and he has promised to veto and oppose any efforts to raise income taxes … So he’s made that commitment.

Now, Club for Growth has been rough on him because of his period when he was governor. We had arguments with him when he was governor because he supported too much spending and too much taxes as governor

But then he launches into this "convert" language that borrows Romney’s language on abortion:

So some people say ‘If you’ve changed your mind, we don’t like you,’ but that’s not my position. I believe that when people say I used to be pro-choice but now I’m going to be pro-life and here’s why, if they can make a credible argument as to why they have switched in their position, I think we should accept converts. That’s what winning looks like."

I hear both an acceptance of Huckabee and a warning to Romney. "Back off. You are making the same argument in a different place. Don’t go there." Now, this is all kind of predictable because Huckabee signed the pledge. Although, I am a little surprised by the pointed language on abortion.

But what about Giuliani? Marc Ambinder described Grover’s statement as a "non-endorsement endorsement" and "[t]hat’s as close an endorsement as you’ll get from Mr. Norquist." But Rudy didn’t actually sign the pledge.

My friend Patrick Ruffini, a former Giuliani consultant, has described Rudy’s fiscal conservative outreach this way:

ATR’s Grover Norquist today became the latest fiscal conservative leader to shower praise upon Rudy Giuliani:  … Say what you will about Giuliani’s conservative outreach, but fiscal conservatives have been unusually kind to the Hizzoner. First there was the Steve Forbes endorsement. Then the glowing Club for Growth report. And now this.

He even frames the whole thing as:

Giuliani and Huckabee are the ying and yang of the GOP field. One is strong on fiscal issues and weak on social ones. The other is… the opposite. Unlike discerning minute differences in the shades of gray between Clinton and Obama, a Giuliani-Huckabee final would give Republican voters a real choice about the future direction of the party. That is, if Huck can topple Mitt in Iowa…

Of course, while Rudy has committed to not raising taxes, he has not signed the pledge. And Grover has been a strong advocate of fusionism. Like Marc, I can’t help but see this as a Giuliani endorsement. But something seems strange here. How can Grover praise Rudy like this in light of his pledge stance?

Overtones of VA GOP’s position on “Statement of Intent”

Last night the Virginia GOP passed a resolution:

The Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee yesterday evening passed a motion requesting the Virginia State Board of Elections withdraw the “statement of intent” requirement before participating in the 2008 Republican presidential primary contest.

While the committee did request the Virginia State Board of Elections to withdraw the requirement to sign a statement of intent for the 2008 primary, State Central re-emphasized their commitment to closed primaries by passing a resolution supporting party registration in Virginia.

The "statement of intent" would have required that voters in the Republican primary pledge to support the Republican nominee.

Anyone who has been following VA GOP politics gets the irony in this. I suspect that what really happened is that pro-lifers revolted. They refuse to pledge to support Rudy who they see as a likely or probably winner of the VA GOP primary. The irony is that these are the same groups that are trying to close the primary, reiterated above. As a side note, the VA GOP wants party registration because it makes campaigning much easier.

Christian right endorsements flow

It has been a pretty remarkable two days in terms of endorsements:

Where is the Fred Thompson endorsement?