Should Giuliani Have Run This Time?

Earlier this year, when former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani began sending signals that he might jump into the 2012 presidential race, there seemed to be a collective eye-roll from political pundits across both sides of the aisle. The general consensus was that Giuliani’s time had come and gone. I tended to agree.

After all, Giuliani’s fall during the 2008 presidential primaries was a thing of legend. He went from being the strong, early front-runner to earning only single-digit support by the time states began casting their votes. A poor campaign strategy and Giuliani’s liberal stance on some social issues was largely thought to be responsible. So, if his widely praised leadership during the 9/11 attacks and his exceptional economic and security results as NYC mayor weren’t enough to earn him even honorable mention by Republican voters in 2008, how could he possibly fare better in 2012? Right?

Well, I’m starting to think he might have.

As a registered Republican, I’ve been uneasy about the current GOP field. And if poll results are any indication, I’m not alone. The front-runner position has changed numerous times over the past few months, and most voters claim they could still change their mind on who they’ll support. The Republican establishment clearly hasn’t been satisfied with the selection. They tried for months to draft Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, and Chris Christie to no avail.

In a nutshell, the dilemma stems from differences in the perceived electability and the conservative credentials of each candidate. Most Republicans want a principled conservative in the White House, which is why they’re reluctant to support Mitt Romney who has a well-documented history of switching views on major issues to gain favor with whatever crowd he’s courting. While they respect Romney for his business successes, debate skills, and electability, they recognize the need for drastic reforms and they’re not sure they can rely on his commitment to pursue them. On the other hand, they largely trust the conservative purity of most of the remaining candidates, but are skeptical of their electability.

In this environment, I can’t help but think Giuliani would have actually been in a pretty good position, had he made the leap. He clearly isn’t a social conservative, but he’s certainly a fiscal conservative with a pretty strong record in New York City to prove it. Sure, that record didn’t help him much in 2008, but it was a different country then. The economy didn’t tank until after the GOP candidate had already been settled on. When the Republicans were still battling it out, foreign policy was the key issue of the day and social issues were front and center.

That’s not really the case these days. Look at how much trouble the strongest social conservatives in the GOP race are having right now. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have sunk to the bottom of the polls, and Rick Perry’s firm stances on social issues have done nothing to help his candidacy. Unsurprisingly, the 2012 election is about the economy, not social issues.

As we’ve seen with the popularity of Herman Cain and Chris Christie, GOP voters like plain talkers and bold thinkers who have no qualms in disregarding political correctness to press their agenda. I still see these qualities in Giuliani anytime he’s interviewed or delivering a speech. In fact, the reason the media keeps coming to him for comment on the Occupy Wallstreet protests is because they recognize the stark contrast in styles between he and current New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Giuliani’s criticisms of the Obama administration over the past couple of years have been clear, concise, and at times masterful. I sometimes think he looks more presidential now than he did in 2008.

The debates have possibly been more important than any other factor in this year’s campaign cycle, and as many might remember, Giuliani’s a pretty decent debater with a knack for getting crowds riled up. He’s also been fairly consistent on the issues. It would be hard to imagine him getting caught up in a finger-pointing contest like with Romney and Perry.

Fundraising would have surely been a challenge for Giuliani. Big donors most likely would have been hesitant to invest in his campaign, considering the outcome from three years earlier. But as we’ve seen from Herman Cain, a shoe-string budget with constant media appearances can go a long way toward rallying support. And with momentum, the donors who helped Giuliani in 2008 would have surely come back on board.

Most importantly, as odd as this might sound considering his 2008 performance, I think Giuliani would have been electable. He still has more name recognition than probably all GOP candidates in the race, and polls earlier this year actually showed him in the lead of all Republican candidates in the important primary state of New Hampshire… a state he barely campaigned in, in 2008.  Nationally, he still polls well with independents, and at a time when the country is crying for strong leadership, he’s one guy who has rarely been challenged on his credentials to lead.

There’s no doubt that his biggest advantage as a candidate this time around would have been the overall weakness of the field. Yes, I’ve come to terms that this is indeed a lackluster field. Most voters aren’t quite sold on anyone. Every candidate seems to have an Achilles heel that would certainly be used as ammunition against them during the general election. At this point, Giuliani’s past marital problems and stance on abortion don’t seem like any worse obstacles than those faced by the other candidates.

In the end, it’s all a moot point. The field is set. But one has to wonder if we’ll look back to the presidential race a year from now and wonder why more high-profile candidates like Giuliani didn’t take the plunge at such a dire time in our nation’s history.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Mike Jackson

    Sorry to be so late into the discussion. My answer is NO! But it’s too bad Steve Forbes decided against running.

  • Phillip Venable

    We need someone that has the credentials to speak on a world stage, and considering how involved globally we are, that is exactly what we need. Obama has shown nothing but submission towards other world leaders and now is needed someone with good bargaining skills. An American Globalist that will ensure we Americans have a stake in a global economy.

  • Lonesome George

    I really like Rudy but he would have problems with middle America with his views on gun control. Likewise I wouldn’t want him as AG or Director of Homeland Security. But I think he would be a very very good Sec of State

  • Ellen L.

    I would have voted for Giuliani. I would even vote of Hillary Clinton now. She has learned a lot in her job the past few years. I’m not enthralled by any of the current contenders. I certainly won’t vote for Obama (and I am a registered democrat; I didn’t vote for him the last time either.) I may just write in Giuliani’s name for lack of any other bright starts. I might have considered Cain but then he came out with that antiabortion claim.. I suppose all the candidates are so pro-life as to not look into the reality that the decision needs to be between patient and doctor. And then are they against stem cell research, too? I really haven’t heard. We really took a back seat in the medical research world due to the years Bush limited use of stem cell research.

  • Marissa shasteen

    How come that an attack on Herman Cain is not a racist attack?
    But any negative on Obama is?

  • Margaret McCormick

    Rudi Guiliani should run. There are others who have run for president more than once (i.e. Richard Nixon ran against JFK and again around 1968 when he actually did win the presidency).Guiliani also has a lot of good ideas and is a no nonsense fiscal conservative who would not let politics or partisanship get in the way. However, that would leave me with 4 candidates to choose from: him, Santorum, Gingrich and Bachmann. If they would run and effective and aggressive campaign,(like Obama did in 2001) not only would one of them get the nomination, they could also blow Obama away in the debates and win the presidency.

  • Kathie Ampela

    It’s a shame, I think Guiliani would have made a great president. I live in NY and I know what he did for this city and how much it’s gone downhill since he left. With respect to the current GOP field, I still like Rick Perry but I seem to be in the minority. Newt Gingrich is a fascinating man and would wipe the floor with Obama in a debate, but I trust him even less than Romney.

  • BILL AMERICA

    Rudy should stay away from politics since he’s so clueless as to what OWS is all about .. Occupy a job?? Hello Rudy.. Their are no Jobs .. Don’t you read the monthly jobless unemployment numbers … All the Jobs are all overseas.. Some one tell Rudy to go back to taking whatever drugs he’s on that he needs to keep his delusions to a minimum

    • JohnD

      Bill, you are wrong, wrong wrong.
      There ARE jobs out there. But there are no jobs that pay $20 an hr for someone with no experience. Don’t tell me these idiots can’t find a job. The bottom line is they want something given to them. There is dignity in any work. There is no dignity in whining that life is unfair. Grow the hell up.

  • cybertheolibnut

    Good insight … would you comment on Sarah Palin and how she would fair if she would have entered back when she had the opportunity or even now …

    • John Daly

      I like Palin, but she wouldn’t have beat Obama in the general election. Fair or not, the media did a highly successful job of turning her into a national joke. And at times, she didn’t help her case. I think it would have been bad for the party had she entered.

  • Roadmaster

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda….

    I like Rudy for AG, or even VP. He deflects/defends attacks from the Left as well as anyone and he’s a great “clean up hitter” for sure.

    Oh, I’m sorry! Was that violent rhetoric?

  • rick geiger

    Would-a Could-a Should-a To successfully run for president a person needs to truly believe that they are the best person and that the office of the President is theirs. That is why McCain lost and that is why Rudy is not running…he does not care enough

    • Barrie in PA

      Correct. Voters are looking ‘for fire in the belly’ this time – even independents. If someone really cared for the sagging country this cycle, why wouldn’t they run?
      McCain pulled his punches and lost, and Huckabee and Guiliani lack the dedication needed right now. Gingrich and Cain have the fire, but must have much more impact than the kindly uncles they seem to be in the race, in comparison with The Fraudulent Zero..

  • RecknHavic

    I think that the number of responses (or lack thereof) you’ll get to to this article will be a good indicator as to why Giulliani would go nowhere in the Republican primaries.

    • John Daly

      In all fairness, the column was only posted an hour ago or so… but you might be right. ;) I’m not saying he would have won, but I think it would have been good to have more viable choices, and I think he could have fared better than last time.

      • RecknHavic

        Well, you’ve gotten more than I really expected, so there’s that.

        I think Rudy would be a great Dir of Homeland Secry.

    • CCNV

      I’m still wondering how McCain got the Republican nomination last time; but then again, why was Sharron Angle chosen to run against Pinky Reid?

      I know many people who would have voted for Giuliani – then and now. Regardless of the ‘baggage’ most of these candidates carry with them (Gingrich and Cain, for example), there should be no other surprises once elected (that is, if the lamestream media has thoroughly done its job). Who cares anyway? After the mockery Clinton made of the office of President, everything else pales in comparison. (By the way, have you noticed who is running the country now…Dumb and Dumber!?!)

      I hope and pray we elect a strong Republican who goes into the White House with guns a blazing.