Monday, February 05, 2007

Giuliani, the Front Runner

So says Dick Morris, the Flip-Flopper

I don't want to pick on Dick Morris; I think he is a very bright guy. But it was only a few days ago that he stated in public that he would have to reconsider his view that Giuliani had no chance at the GOP Presidential nomination. Now, he says that Giuliani is the favorite. He's passed about a dozen guys very quickly:

UNTIL now, the status of front-runner in the Republican primaries for president was jointly held by Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. McCain is clearly no longer the front-runner. In the last week or so, Giuliani has moved out to a clear lead.

* McCain's latest fund-raising report, for the fourth quarter of 2006, was pathethic: He raised only $1.7 million and has only pocket change - $472,454 - on hand.

* A Fox News poll of Jan. 30-31 shows the former mayor jumping out to a significant lead among Republicans - 34 to 22 percent.

* A Gallup poll taken Jan. 25-28 shows Giuliani is better liked by Republicans than McCain -74 to 21 percent and more trusted to handle a crisis (68-20). Some 60 percent say Giuliani "better understands the problems of the average person," against 33 percent who pick McCain. By 58-34, America's Mayor is seen as the stronger leader.

Conversations with conservative activists also show a remarkable openness to supporting Giuliani - a belief that he can overcome (perhaps finesse) his pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights and pro-immigration positions. Feelings seem bitterer over McCain's role in Washington battles - his opposition to the Bush tax cuts and his support for "amnesty" for illegal immigrants and for campaign-finance reform...

So a dark horse will probably move up. These names are still obscure, but get to know them - lightning will soon strike at least one: Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (our favorite), Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, ex-Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Reps. Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo.

Previously Morris had said that one of those 'dark horses' would get the nomination; now he says simply that one will challenge. Missing from the list is my personal favorite among the 'snowball's-chance-in-hell' set: former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.

I think Morris may be right in classifying Giuliani as the front-runner. He has been very successful to date in overcoming his shortcomings on social policies - a topic I wrote on a few days ago - and taking advantage of the apathy and antipathy in conservative circles toward Romney and McCain. Still, the first primary is still a long way away.

By the way, this is not the first time I have noticed a dramatic turnaround in Morris's predictions.

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