Monday, February 4, 2008

Was This The Worse Campaign Strategy Ever?

In what will surely go down as the worse campaign strategy in the history of American politics, Rudy Giuliani was soundly defeated in Florida. After running what appeared to be a campaign to be the President of Florida, Mr. Giuliani had spent the bulk of his time and finances in Florida. In a campaign that was marked by an incoherent strategy and a less than enthusiastic candidate, the end should have been predictable. It’s odd how the MSM actually gave this hare-brained strategy a chance of succeeding, but such is the state of the media in America. Mr. Giuliani’s campaign is over after basically one primary, the last time anyone crashed and burned that quickly was the Japanese kamikaze pilots of WWII.

Giuliani's critics and supporters blamed his fall on the unconventional campaign strategy that focused more on collecting convention delegates than on notching early primary victories. Conventional political wisdom is that success in the early primaries produces momentum, which leads to later primary wins, which leads to delegates enough delegates for the party nomination.

"His campaign was built on the assumption that it could do it their way," said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute. "The message back was `Don't mess with Mother Nature and skip Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.' It's tough to tout yourself as the most electable Republican when week after week you're getting beat by (Rep.) Ron Paul."[1]

While the reasons for his demise are many I think one of the major ones was his sheer arrogance. He truly thought he was smarter than everyone else in the room, I guess he wasn’t. Did Rudy really want to be President? I think he did so long as he didn’t have to work real hard at it. Never being the hard-charging campaigner, I think he just sort of expected it to be given to him. This is the second time he has had to quit in a tough election. I guess he isn’t as tough as he’s advertised to be. When the going gets tough, Rudy gets going alright. He gets going home.

Rudy had a lot of support so long as no one really knew him. He had early name recognition, but it seems the more people got to know him the less they liked him. As news of the real Rudy began to surface and the façade of 9/11 began to crumble, it’s clear the American public did not like what it saw. What the public saw was a vindictive, disloyal, opportunist who was not above throwing anybody under the train to get what he wanted. Despite warnings to the contrary his campaign believed that his early support was erosion proof. Once again the American political arena has slain another paper giant and left in its wake the ghost of elections past. I can’t wait to hear the blame sessions that are sure to come as this “strategy” is debated in the future. Not since the Iraq invasion will a strategy be more scrutinized and lambasted.

As of January 9, 2008, Giuliani had made 23 trips to the Sunshine state, according to the National Journal's Hotline. That total was almost three times more than Sen. John McCain, 16 more than Mike Huckabee, and seven more than Romney. Meanwhile, by some estimates, Giuliani spent more than $1 million in Florida-based advertising in 2007. Currently, the New York Daily News reports, he is writing $350,000-a-day worth of checks for his in-state ad campaign. Giuliani also has 50 campaign workers in Florida, although many have "accepted" the campaign's "suggestion" that they work without pay.[2]

So for all the time and money he spent in Florida Rudy got just one delegate. That works out to be probably the most expensive delegate in voting history. I hate to say it, but I think he would have done better if he hadn’t campaigned there at all. He certainly couldn’t have done much worse. So Rudy will return to his lucrative position at Giuliani Partners with its secret client list and will continue to parlay his “tough” image into millions of dollars and the Republicans will go on to nominate someone else. But what will we be left with by this campaign? Are there any larger lessons to be learned from the train wreck that was Rudy?

I think the biggest lesson learned is that most of America is tired of living in fear and if that is all you have to offer then they aren’t buying it. It seems even the Republicans are finally starting to at least begin the process of awakening from the state of suspended animation they were transported to after 9/11. Even the master of fear, Karl Rove would have a hard time selling that line this time around. The one thing about the Republicans though is that they are consistent and with McCain appearing to be their nominee the terror alert level is sure to be ratcheted up by his 100 year war rhetoric. While this may appeal to the rabid diehard chicken hawks, the rest of the country will have other issues on their agendas.

Thanks Rudy you proved why this strategy was heralded by so many as insane, because it was. And you wanted the American people to trust your instincts? Just like all your other “strong” suits this one appeared to be just as flimsy when placed under scrutiny. Not to worry though if McCain should win I am sure there will be a position opening up for you on his cabinet, maybe Secretary of the permanent 9/11 reminder commission?


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