A lot of pundits are talking about what happened to Giuliani’s strategy. Many more will analyze this over time. Here are some of my first thoughts.
First, the playing field shifted. After the first of the year, the major issue shifted from the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror to domestic issues. The discussion changed from an area of strength to an area of weakness for Giuliani.
Second, the American electorate really doesn’t pay attention until late in the game. And they get most of their information from the news. Thus, the fact that other candidates were in the media – with Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and McCain all getting a lot of press for their wins. This “earned media” trumps paid media any day.
So, Rudy did not have a strong message on the economy – and didn’t have much of a chance to spread his message if he did.
But I don’t think that is the real reason Rudy failed.
Bill Bennett on CNN said it well — Rudy looked like he was just going through the motions; like he was “trying out” a campaign. I only had one chance to see him in person, before the South Carolina primary, and I was not impressed. He lacked energy. He lacked charisma. He spoke well. He had good things to say. But I was uninspired.
With the right candidate, the strategy can work. It’s not about the gameplan, it’s the execution. A candidate like Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama, charismatic and energetic, could make it succeed. Rudy was just not the right candidate.
It will be interesting to see if the nomination process changes in 2012. If not, will another candidate have both the ability and the desire to repeat the Giuliani gambit?