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Political Action: Giuliani’s campaign sunk by inexperience

It was ironic that several months before, a motion picture had come out about a University of Notre Dame student who had tried for four years to become a member of the Notre Dame football team and finally, in the last game of his final season, did as he scored a touchdown. At the time, that motion picture comparison with the Giuliani campaign was obvious. The '93 mayoral race was the epitome of an effective grassroots effort, especially in Queens and Staten Island. His campaign that year seemed to inspire cross-sections of the electorate. After eight years, including his outstanding role in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, he would leave office being referred to as "America's mayor."Six years later, he would seek the U.S. presidency and in October and November of last year seemed to be the leading candidate. However, as so many politicians have found out, political standing can and does change rapidly. It certainly did for Rudy Giuliani.It seems that towards the end of last year, segments of the news media played a major role in vehemently criticizing Giuliani's character, his judgment and his actions, and these criticisms seemed to be constant. This in turn raised serious questions about his qualifications and fitness for the presidency as well as his electability. Giuliani has not held public office at the state or federal level, although he had opportunities to do so but chose to bypass races for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and the governorship in 2006. Had he run for one of those two offices, it might have better prepared him for a presidential bid.This also meant that some of his campaign staff who had worked on his mayoral races had little or no experience running a statewide campaign, much less a national campaign. Had they done so, the generally perceived blunder of bypassing the early primaries and concentrating on the Florida primary might not have occurred. He knew that his liberal positions on social issues would hurt him in the early primaries and so he retreated to Florida, where he believed his less-than-conservative views would be more acceptable.In essence, Giuliani and his staff seemed to have difficulty in going from a citywide campaign to a national one. There are no short cuts on the road to the White House. A candidate must be constantly competitive. It seems that U.S. Sen. John McCain ran a better campaign than Giuliani by getting endorsements from newspapers and public officials in addition to reaching more voters. McCain criticized Giuliani for his lack of foreign-policy experience, including the fact that Giuliani had not visited Iraq as McCain had done on several occasions.With Rudy's campaign in January practically being suspended outside of Florida, it left an opening for McCain to appeal to the liberal, moderate wing of the Republican Party, besides independents, without competition from Giuliani. He immediately took advantage of that opportunity.In essence, America's mayor did not seem to have the same drive and energy as he had in 1993 and 1997, when he ran successful races. His reluctance to put any of his own financial resources into this campaign, and at the same time asking members of his campaign staff to work without pay for at least a month because campaign contributions were drying up, did not impress the electorate in Florida or anywhere else.In the final analysis, as both mayors John Lindsay and Rudy Giuliani have found out, the voters are not inclined to support a city mayor for U.S. president. The title of president usually goes to candidates who have had experience holding elective office at the state or federal level.The last word from the Bloomberg camp regarding a possible independent run for president is that they will start a petition effort soon to get on the ballot in various states, especially Texas, and that his official announcement about his candidacy will not come until May. In the months ahead, it will be interesting to note how often he will be absent from the city as his petition drive gains momentum. It might be beneficial to the people of New York City if the mayor spent some time dealing with the serious problem of home foreclosures. In Queens alone there were 54 home foreclosures in December and 135 in January of this year. All of the city boroughs have recently been experiencing rises in home foreclosures.

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