Huffpost Politics
Thomas B. Edsall Headshot

Giuliani Camps Out In New Hampshire As Late-State Strategy Implodes

Posted: Updated:

Bedford, N.H. -- With his "late state strategy" slowly imploding, Rudy Giuliani now plans to campaign full-time from this Friday through next Tuesday's primary in a last ditch drive for a face-saving showing in New Hampshire, where his chances of winning have inexorably eroded over the past four months.

Odds are overwhelming that a Giuliani victory in New Hampshire is beyond reach - he is running 18.8 points behind Mitt Romney and 21.3 points behind John McCain, according to RealClearPolitics.

But even worse for the New York Mayor is the fact that his once-promising chances in Michigan on January 15 and in South Carolina on January19 have turned into long shots -- and even in Florida, whose primary is on January 29, Giuliani's numbers are declining.

"There is one very good word to describe Rudy's 'late state' strategy," Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who is not affiliated with any presidential campaign, told the Huffington Post: "Implausible." Another unaffiliated GOP pollster, Neil Newhouse, gave HuffPost his own view of Giuliani's current status: "Almost an afterthought."

John Weaver, the Texan who was chief strategist for John McCain, but who is now is not working for any candidate, compared Giuliani's strategy to that of Union Civil War General George McClellan: "McClellan, a lot of song and dance, beautiful parades and bold strategies. But at the end of the day. it never amounted to anything."

At a press briefing here in New Hampshire today, the former New York Mayor was hard-pressed to defend his approach to winning the Republican nomination.

"None of this [declining support Michigan and South Carolina] worries me. These are all tactics," he said. "For every pro, there is a con."

The only other Republican candidate to campaign in New Hampshire today is John McCain, who is scheduled to fly in from Iowa late this afternoon.

On Friday, however, all the candidates still left standing after the returns come in on the Iowa caucuses, Republican and Democrat, will be flooding the state in what appears likely to be the most intense five days of campaigning in the history of New Hampshire.

For Giuliani, the trends here and elsewhere have been troubling. In recent months, he has suffered a glut of adverse publicity concerning his extramarital affair with the woman who has become his third wife while serving as New York Mayor, and criminal charges against Bernie Kerick, Giuliani's Police Commissioner and the candidate Giuliani proposed to President Bush as secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

Today, Giuliani argued that his plan of absorbing losses until the Florida and the multi-state February 5 primaries "is the strategy we chose close to day one."

In fact, however, Giuliani has seen what had been solid chances of winning here, in Michigan and in South Carolina become marginal at best.

In March of this year, Giuliani was number one in New Hampshire polls, and in September and early October he was within 2 to 4 points of taking the lead. In Michigan, surveys showed Giuliani close to or in the lead all the way to the beginning of December; now, he is running in third place, well behind Romney and McCain. Finally, in South Carolina, Giuliani held onto first place throughout the summer, only to fall to fourth place in the most recent polling.

"Now that he is not doing as well has he was previously, the risks have multiplied," said Newhouse. "The facts on the ground are passing Rudy by."