Pollster Frank Luntz - a former Giuliani adviser - pens a piece on how Giuliani can beat McCain for the Republican nomination. It's interesting and useful, but by itself it won't win Giuliani anything:
Differentiation is Job One of a successful presidential aspirant, and Rudy knows this. As a wordsmith, I have enjoyed watching him begin to draw distinctions between himself and McCain - claiming in a recent radio interview that "I'm more firmly committed to tax cutting than he is."
If he's going to outmaneuver McCain in the quest for the hearts and minds of a very demanding and often fickle Republican electorate, Giuliani will need to do much more of that - more than he might be inclined to consider. If I were advising his campaign (which I am not), here's what I might suggest.
Giuliani must begin by understanding that McCain has one advantage that no other Republican hopeful can match: a love affair with the American media. One reason why McCain has generated significant support outside the GOP is because of labels like "maverick" and "outsider" that those in the media use to express their approval, even as they harm him among the party faithful.
That is Giuliani's first, best opening: He's an outsider, and unafraid of The New York Times editorial page (an applause line in Iowa and New Hampshire). Though McCain may not sound like one or act like one, he's been a Beltway Republican, part of the Washington establishment for almost two decades. Giuliani can score considerable points by acknowledging McCain's willingness to buck the political system while subtly reminding Republicans of McCain's participation in that very system.
This leads to Giuliani's second great advantage: New York. While McCain is in Washington, a city of hearings and roll call votes, Giuliani is the embodiment of a city back on its feet. There was a time when being a New Yorker at a GOP convention was about as popular as being Dr. Kevorkian at an AARP convention. Times have changed, and so has the city...
That brings us to Giuliani's third big weapon: the triumvirate of results, success and solutions. My polling and focus groups make clear that Republican voters are not looking for the kind of "revolution" that swept their party into Congress in 1994. On the contrary, they are looking for what George W. Bush promised to be in 2000 - a "reformer with results."
There's lots more to add to the list of what Giuliani can do to beat McCain - call attention to the fact that Senators do not win the White House, and watch for opportunities to showcase McCain's temper. However, none of those will matter a hill of beans if conservatives see McCain as a cutter of taxes and spending who is committed to conservative social policies, while perceiving Giuliani as a social liberal. There is no way Giuliani can win if that's the dynamic.
If Giuliani can address that - something I believe he can do effectively - then Luntz's piece offers good suggestions on 'what comes next.'
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