What do Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul have in common? Neither has won a primary or caucus, the difference being that Giuliani was expected to challenge and even win the Republican nomination while Paul has been labeled as a fringe candidate with no chance of winning. With a second place finish in Nevada, Paul is building momentum for Florida and Super Tuesday. Giuliani is going in the opposite direction and is staking his whole campaign on winning Florida, but he is fading fast. As a result of his poor showings, his national support is also eroding and Florida is shaping up o be a dog fight. After Nevada and South Carolina, Duncan Hunter has decided to drop out of the race. On February fifth, Super Tuesday will further make or break the candidates, which could see the field dwindle down even more, and this could very well include Giuliani.
Giuliani's poor showings in the early contests are not because of a lack of trying. As a result, other candidates have been given more exposure and gained momentum. His strategy of seemingly abandoning early states and shifting money and resources to focus on Florida was done out of pure desperation. Florida has become a must win and could further cement his presidential campaign as one of the biggest busts in American political history. It could also turn out to be pure genius if he is able to win in Florida, and it would catapult him back into the race. There are reports that some of his staff are working without pay, and that his campaign is cash-strapped as contributions have all but dried up. In a last ditch effort to salvage his campaign and his pride, he is now proclaiming himself to be an agent of change, and is further attacking his opponents. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
In Iowa, Giuliani finished with 4% of the vote, well behind Paul's 10%. In fact Paul spanked him with a 2-1 ratio in votes, even though Giuliani had made more visits to the state. In New Hampshire, it appears as if much of Giuliani's support went McCain's way. Giuliani spent almost as much money as the winner. He once again failed to reach double digits and finished with 9%, edging out Paul by only one percent. Then it was on to Michigan, which was another Giuliani disaster, whereas Paul garnered almost more votes than Thompson and Giuliani combined. Nevada saw Paul pull off a dramatic second place finish, picking up 13% of the vote as opposed to Giuliani's measly 4%. South Carolina turned into another embarrassing performance, and another loss to Paul. Giuliani's campaign is in free-fall mode, but is still banking on Florida and other voter-rich delegate states. A win in Florida would elevate and rejuvenate his campaign, but a loss would see it crash and burn and come to a screeching halt.
A turning point in the Giuliani campaign might have been his ill-fated attack on Paul over foreign policy in one of the earlier debates. Paul stated that American foreign policy was a major contributing factor leading to 9/11, but he never suggested that we invited the attacks. Giuliani urged Paul to retract his statement and claimed he had never heard of such a theory. He later stated that they hate us because of our freedom and our values. Paul did not back down, and questioned if Giuliani had ever read the 9/11 commission report, later holding a press conference where former CIA officials further backed up his statements. He issued a list of books for Giuliani to read on the subject. At the time, many pundits believed that Giuliani had delivered a knockout blow, and Mr. 9/11 looked strong and presidential. It may have been the highlight of his campaign, but a turning point in a negative way. It exposed Giuliani's lack of foreign policy knowledge and elevated Paul's status.
After more than six years, it appears as if Giuliani's opportunity to use the attacks and the whole fear of terrorism are gone. In fact, 9/11 has become his can of worms, and many accuse him of covering up the toxic dust scandal at ground zero. Others are angry for his decision to put firefighters and other victim's remains in landfills. Almost everywhere he goes, he is dogged by those who blame him for some of the firefighters deaths. There can be little doubt that Giuliani has used the 9/11 tragedies for personal profit and to launch his presidential bid. It is becoming obvious to many that he is no longer a viable candidate.
In less then a month, Giuliani has gone from Republican front runner to a second tier candidate. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Like those who had earlier written off McCain, can Giuliani rekindle the magic? Anything less than a win in Florida would spell certain doom for his campaign. If Paul doesn't win the nomination, his revolution will have still succeeded, and we can forever look back with a smile on how he whooped Giuliani.