Thursday, September 07, 2006

Giuliani, Clinton Considerably Ahead In Presidential Polls

Charles de Gaulle in French politics was always "the man of the 18th of June." Frenchmen never forgot that on the 18th of June, 1940, unwilling to accept a French surrender to Nazi Germany, the great general, "carrying the honor of France in his pocket," flew to England, to carry on the resistance. Eighteen years later, when France faced an army and settler rebellion in Algeria, the country turned again to de Gaulle to save itself for a second time.

And so it is with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. For many, he will always be the man of Sept. 11, 2001, when with calm and decision he stepped forward in the city's most dire hour to lead the response to the Arab terrorist attacks of that day. This made Giuliani a hero, who well might be called upon again, in a national crisis. Besides 9-11, many voters will also remember that when a Saudi millionaire wanted to give New York $10 million, if only America would change its Middle Eastern policy, Giuliani told him, in effect, to take that $10 million and ram it up his ass.

That is why it is so interesting this morning to see that in a CNN poll on the developing 2008 presidential contest, Giuliani is well ahead in the battle for the GOP nomination. He has 31% support, to 20% for Sen. John McCain and 12% for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hilary Clinton seems also to be rather decisively ahead. She leads former Sen. Al Gore, the party's 2000 presidential nominee, 37% to 20% in the race for the Democratic nomination. Sen. John Kerry, the party's 2004 nominee, who has been flaunting his 'cut and run' approach in Iraq, has 11% and former Sen. John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, also has 11%.

Since Gore has not (yet) declared a candidacy for 2008, and Clinton has not really begun a presidential campaign, the Democratic race may not be as firmly set in nature as the Republican. Clinton could yet falter, or even decide not to run, although the front-loaded nature of the 2008 primaries would seem to work in her favor.

The Giuliani lead in the CNN poll is more of a thunderbolt. There have been many stories that McCain is well prepared for another run, and a negative book has just appeared about Giuliani, who is said by some commentators to have troubles with Republican conservatives because of his stands on abortion and homosexual rights.

But, assuming a Giuliani effort is well organized, I think the odds he will be the nominee, are good. The GOP is apt to take a beating in the midterm elections, the War on Terror is not going well, and the situation in Iraq may only get worse, All these factors favor Giuliani, because McCain is even more of a maverick and GOP voters may well be desperate for a strong nominee by the time 2008 rolls around.

As New York mayor, Giuliani was often a fractious politician, known as stubborn and hard to get along with. He had a much-publicized affair when his marriage broke up. But none of this counted at 9-11. His conduct that day won him friends he will never lose. And now, as the nation's foreign policy troubles increase, he may well benefit.

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