Dick Morris, former adviser to President Clinton and now mortal enemy of Hillary Clinton, loves to make predictions about election outcomes. Over the course of the year I have been following his columns concerning the Republican primary because his opinions are usually so conclusive and certain you would think he had successfully discovered time travel. To prove he hasn’t made such a discovery, I pieced together a few of his predictions over the year to demonstrate how wrong this guy who thinks he’s always right is.
“Romney, who is panting after their (conservatives) support, is a political duck decoy, distracting onlookers from focusing their gaze on the real conservatives who might run. He can't win. He can't get nominated or even become the consensus candidate of the right wing. He's too Mormon (it shouldn't be an issue, but it is) and flip-flop-flipped from pro-life to pro-choice and back again. These problems, combined with his flip-flops on gay rights and stem cell research, make him incapable of becoming the right-wing candidate to oppose Giuliani.” – March 15, 2007
“Even as he continues to hold a convincing lead in the national race, Rudy Giuliani may be riding for a big fall in Iowa and the other early state primaries. Mitt Romney, despite his anemic national showing, could sweep Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, a trifecta that could give him such momentum as to sweep him to the nomination.
The numbers are scary for Giuliani (and since Mitt doesn't have a prayer in hell of beating Hillary in a general election, scary for us all). While he holds a lead in the national polls (Giuliani 30, Thompson 17, McCain 15, Romney 12, Huckabee 9 -- all data is from the average of the past five polls posted on www.realclearpolitics.com), he is trailing badly in all the early states.
…But if Romney wins in Iowa, he will certainly win in New Hampshire -- where he already leads -- and in Michigan, where his father was governor and he has been working hard. Coming into Florida with that kind of momentum will make it very hard for Giuliani to come back.” -November 14, 2007 – The Hill
What is so humorous about this transition from Dick saying Romney doesn’t have a chance against Giuliani to him being in position to win, is that now Dick is certain ( I’m assuming that is what he meant by saying “Mitt doesn't have a prayer in hell”) Romney can’t win the general election against Hillary. Maybe Dick would be better served betting on the impossible.
Dick assumes Giuliani should win against Romney as long as he runs a traditional aggressive advertising campaign much the same way Romney is. This just isn’t he case. Giuliani himself is his campaign’s liability, not his campaign strategy. Dick said:
“Rudy has brought this crisis on himself by foolishly running no television ads in any of the early primary or caucus states while Romney has advertised for six to eight months. In a classic hare-versus-tortoise scenario, Giuliani waited so long to show his colors on television that Romney may have built up an insurmountable lead in the interim.”
Dick mistakenly assumes that it is in Giuliani’s best interest for the public to learn more about him. This just isn’t the case. Everybody already knows who Giuliani is. People know him as the New York mayor who made some good stump speeches following 9/11. What they generally don't know is that he's been divorced multiple times, lived with two gay friends, and fought for public funding for abortions.
Now everyone is starting to find out about his corrupt bedfellows such as the recently indicted Bernard Kerik, who Giuliani recommended to the Bush administration to lead the Department of Homeland Security. If Giuliani runs too many adds, or attracts too much attention to himself through other means, the negative issues will spread in the news like chickenpox in a preschool. Unfortunately for him, it looks like it is already happening. Conversely, the Romney campaign has demonstrated a powerful correlation between advertising and an increase in support. His ads have been extremely successful in the early primary states, and there’s no evidence to suggest this won’t work throughout the rest of the country. While some believe the “Mormon” issue is the 5-ton elephant in the room, it hasn’t been impossible to overcome thus far, especially as evidenced by Romney’s drastically improved numbers in South Carolina. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out as the campaign spreads west.
One thing is clear – Romney benefits by putting himself in the public spotlight whereas Rudy does not. There has been some dispute among Romney’s campaign advisers concerning whether they should start showing negative ads about Giuliani because the mud might come back their way. For now, with the Kerik and Regan/News Corp. headlines, Romney has no need to get his own hands muddy.