Mitt Romney rolled out Rudy Giulani on Tuesday in a bid to inoculate himself from Democratic suggestions that he is too weak to have whacked Osama bin Laden. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee and Old 9/11 visited a firehouse in lower Manhattan to mark the first anniversary of the terror chief's death.
It was not the stuff of legends. Looking at the two men standing together, it became clear how completely the Giuliani magic had vanished. The former mayor wore a suit and looked as if he had been stuffed by a taxidermist for the occasion. Romney, in his white shirt and tie, looked positively casual and loose by comparison.
When you hit a point where you make Mitt Romney look cool, you know your day is over.
Giuliani was to be the Romney endorser-of-the-day. Until recently, he had been cheerleading for Newt Gingrich and denouncing Mitt as a flip-flopper. As has been noted widely, the guy who denounced Romney for changing his positions has now changed his position, and decided that Mitt is the best man for the job.
Everything seemed to be knee-deep in irony. At a time when the Romney camp was attacking President Obama for politicizing bin Laden's demise, Mitt himself was hanging out with Rudy, who was always front and center when the Republicans needed someone -- someone other than Dick Cheney -- to suggest that whenever the Democrats win, so do the terrorists.
"What the Obama administration is telling us loud and clear is that both in substance and reality the war on terror from their point of view is over," Giuliani said in 2009. "This seems to be an over-concern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public."
Barack Obama? Why, the man made history as the first president to assassinate an American citizen. New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda operative, was killed by an Obama-approved drone strike in Yemen.
With Rudy's ceaseless help, the Republicans have spent nearly a decade complaining that Democrats are soft on terrorism, and by implication unpatriotic. Now, they've got a Democratic president who took out bin Laden, engineered the downfall of Libyan dictator/weirdo Muammar Gaddafi and helped push Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak into early retirement.
No wonder Romney put out an SOS to America's Former Mayor.
But the magic is gone -- Rudy accompanied Mitt to a Greenwich Village firehouse that had taken a heavy hit in 9/11 fatalities. The terror-fighting duo brought pizza for the firefighters -- a photo-op that flopped when one of the well-cordoned-off photographers hung around long enough to get some pictures of Romney and Giuliani dumping their pizza boxes on an aide, who presumably actually took the food into the waiting blaze battlers.
Romney also got a moment to complain about certain people politicizing the war on terror. Giuliani praised Romney for understanding that terrorism is "a war that still continues, that we still have to be vigilant about."
Looking at the two men standing there together, you had to remember that four years ago, Rudy was for a while the front-runner for the presidential nomination, while Mitt ran back with the pack. But today Romney is the all-but-official Republican nominee. Rudy is a second-tier talking head on cable news shows who is no longer taken seriously by the media, the other Republicans, or most of the public.
Romney didn't even give Giuliani the starring role in his day. He also visited with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appeared to be subject of far more intense romancing. Bloomberg has dropped hints that he might consider endorsing in the presidential race, and the Romney camp was clearly much more interested in that possibility than in trotting out Rudy Giuliani.
If things get any worse for Giuliani, the next Republican presidential nominee will stick him with carrying the pizza.