As GOP presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney continue to crisply line up staff, issue policy pronouncements that have the appearance of substance, and act like the top tier primary candidates they are, Rudy Giuliani’s effort is beginning to take on the appearance of a Potemkin village.
The Rudy forces argue that, indeed, they’re also lining up quality staff – and they are, in addition to “leading” in most national polls – but his exploratory effort is now reacting to developments, not shaping them. Whereas the McCain and Romney operations are competent and proactive, the Giuliani team is increasingly slow on the draw, and beginning to get sucked down into the nitty-gritty sinkhole of scrutiny that has long been predicted.
Things have changed now that it’s closer to prime time, and the drift generally started with the purloined campaign document drama, which made Rudy’s team appear foolish, and has moved on to the interesting notion of trademarking his own name.
As New York Daily News’ David Saltonstall recently wrote, Giuliani “never shrank from defending his image as mayor” but “as a businessman he’s gone a step further” trademarked his own name. The “unusual step” states that “trade names and trademarks ‘Rudolph Giuliani or ‘Giuliani Partners LLC’…shall not be used…without prior written consent.” Doing anything that “tarnishes, degrades disparages or reflects adversely on the Giuliani name” will be “grounds for terminating the contract.” The trademarking of his name underscores a central question of his candidacy, wrote Saltonstall: “How will his roster of mostly private business clients play when viewed through the harsh prism of presidential campaign politics?”
Giuliani spokesperson Sunny Mindel’s react, on whether Rudy will release a list of clients, said: “We are reviewing that right now. But I would reiterate that voters are sophisticated enough to distinguish between public sector and private sector, and they know leadership when they see it”
This simply isn’t realistic, and the fact this was even uttered for the record (although in her defense, what else could she say?… as its clear events and hounding from the media are outpacing Rudy Inc.’s ability to process political reality) makes it quite clear the business side and the political side are far from being in synch.
With smart, high quality people like Chris Henick around him (by far his most experienced national operative), Rudy’s got a shot to stay competitive with McCain and Romney – at least for a few more months to buy time to see if he can get his structural act together.
But that’s not likely to happen, and he will most likely decide not to run by the end of 2007’s first quarter. It’s also the smart play for him personally, as well as for his business. Fairly or unfairly, the last two weeks of bad press is just the tip of the iceberg if he decides to stay in this game, and he’s not close to being able to withstand legitimate scrutiny.