Marc Ambinder of Hotline On Call lays out this “Ten Truths About Rudy Giuliani” very, very well:
1. He enters the race more admired; and, not only more admired, more-liked than any presidential candidate since Eisenhower. His national poll ratings do not simply reflect name recognition. They reflect the intrinsic bond that Giuliani formed with the country in the days after 9/11.
2. His resume is thicker than some of his fellow Republican candidates and not as expansive as some of the others. But being the mayor of New York City, presiding over and taming a mammoth bureaucracy, arguably fortified him with more executive experience than the governors of two dozen states. (How many states have fewer than 7 million people?) Massachusetts and Arkansas, for two.
3. More than any other Republican candidate, he would expand the 2008 electoral map. New Jersey would certainly be, for the first time, really, competitive. New Hampshire wouldn’t be a sure thing for Democrats. Either would Pennsylvania or Michigan. Independents might re-defect from the Democratic Party.
4. He’s pro-choice and pro-gay rights. So is a good chunk of the GOP’s donor base, who fret mainly about taxes and government regulation.
5. “I’m pro choice.” “I favor domestic partnerships.” You be may pro-life, and you might not favor expanded civil rights for gay couples, but you will have no doubt, when introduced to Rudy Giuliani, where he stands on those issues. On the other hand, you may be confused by someone who says he prefers “strict constructionist” judges and who also endorses Roe v. Wade and Lawrence V. Texas.
6. About 30 percent of the Republican primary base is pro-choice and open to supporting some gay rights initiatives. The rest of the base is pro-life, but only about half — about 30 percent in total — are pro-life voters. Assuming he gets the majority of GOP moderates, a little less than half of the ideological conservatives, and only 20 percent of the hard-corps moral conservatives, he could do well in the Iowa caucuses.
7. The Ames Straw poll will be, obviously, a barometer of the Giuliani team’s organizational strength in Iowa. It will also test Giuliani’s baseline credibility. The latter is important; the former is more important.
8. Fox News seems to be in love with “America’s Mayor,” as they call him. That’s an unalloyed good. Liberals will recall the “Pre 9/11 Rudy” and charges of racial insensitivity and his mercurial, imperious personality. The more liberals attack Giuliani, the more comfortable conservatives will feel about him.
9. Rudy Giuliani will never get the endorsement of Tony Perkins, or James Dobson, or Richard Land, or Rod Parsley. Therefore, he won’t have to pander to them, and he can focus his time and energy on finding Republicans who can vote for him.
10. “Can Rudy win the nomination?” is a good question. “What does Rudy need to do to win the general election?” is a better question.