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Giuliani's Grand Campaign Plan Now Has Major Hole

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There could be a major hole in Rudy Giuliani's campaign plans. The former New York City mayor had all but written off the early primaries in favor of a strong showing in the more populous states afterwards. Now, however, a new poll finds him in a startling third place in one of those crucial locales.

On Friday, Rasmussen Reports released a poll (yes, it comes with caveats regarding methodology) showing Giuliani at 19 percent support in Florida, a state once thought of as a lock for Hizzoner. The figure represents an eight percentage point drop from November and puts the former New York City mayor well behind the GOP flavor of the month, Mike Huckabee, who registers at 27 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, splits the two at 23 percent support.

Florida's primary, it should be noted, will offer 114 delegates (half the normal size), because state officials moved the date up to January 29th and were punished by the national party for doing so.

The survey offers several suggestions as to why Giuliani's support has so rapidly and then suddenly dropped. But this might be the most telling: "Romney now earns the highest favorable ratings among Florida's Likely Primary Voters at 74%. That's up five points since November and up eleven since September.Giuliani is viewed favorably by 69%, down from 79% a month ago. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 68%, up from 56% a month ago."

In mid-November, Giuliani's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, argued that the campaign could grab the nomination without victories in the Iowa caucus or follow-up primaries in New Hampshire and Michigan. The electoral votes, so the argument went, could be had in places like Florida, California and New York.

"I am confident of that," DuHaime reportedly replied. "There are multiple paths to the nomination." He said Giuliani's campaign is focused on the early states but added, "We've taken a longer approach."