Saturday, October 20, 2007

GOP Prospectives As Sen.Sam Brownback Quits

Written From Lyme, N.H.--

As the New York Times reports that Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas will today give up a presidential campaign that never generated much support, attention is turning for now to what the Evangelical Right will do in the campaign for the Republikcan nomination.

It could be that former Gov. Michael Huckabee of Arkansas may benefit, particularly in Iowa where he seems to be running well, from Brownback's departure. But I think it unlikely that Huckabee can rise fast enough from to prevent former New York Mayor Rudolph Giul;iani from capturing the nomination. Other candidates, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson seem stuck at their present inadequate levels
of support, although perhaps Romney cannot be counted out.

In the event Giuliani is the nominee, what will the Republican Evangelical Right do? There have been half-hearted suggestions that it could form a third party to contest the race, but I'd be surprised. This would only facilitate the election of Sen. Hillary Clinton as the first female president of the United States, and I find it hard to believe that that the Right dislikes Giuliani more than they hate the thought of another Clinton presidency.

The fact is that 9-11 and the threat of more of the same hangs over the presidential campaign and security issues are far more important for now than social ones. So Giuliani's stands on abortion, gun control and gays are not the detriment they might be in a more conventional campaign. Giuliani is the security candidate and, among Republicans of any stripe that trumps everything. He is skillfully capitalizing on the issue.

Brownback made a mistake that other would-be candidates have made. He thoought he could run for President without being first appreciated by the political press corps as a major political figure worthy of attention. And partly because he could not get attention, he was not able to raise money. The New York Times reports he was able to raise only $804,000 in the third quarter of the year and $4.2 million overall.

Some might remember that Jimmy Carter succeeded in 1976 as originally a dark horse. But I covered Carter's campaign and can tell you that the first thing Carter did was to cultivate friends in the political press outside of Washingtn he thought would be influential. He courted us all very assiduously. By the last week of December in 1975, R.W. Apple, then chief political correspondent for the New York Times, was already rating Carter one of the most four likely Democratic nominees. That gave him a powerful push in the early caucuses and primaries.

Carter also set himself up cleverly as a giant-killer. Asked as early as the summer of 1974, how he possibly thought he could win, he would respond simply, "I'm going to go down to Florida and beat George Wallace in the Florida primary.

When, on March 9,, 1976, he did just that, Carter was on the road to the presidentcy. (But, unfortunately, of course, he wasn't a good president).

It should also be noted that Carter had a stamina for campaigning, as now both Giuliani and Clinton are showing. That too can be an important ingredient of success. Thompson, on the other hand, shows little aptitude for hard campaigning.

Brownback had no viable plan, and I wonder, in this year's race, whether even Romney or Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois do. The only candidates with reasonable plans seem to be Clinton and Giuliani.

The New York Times and Washington Post have been running excellent political coverage, quite straight forward except for the clear New York Times dislike of Giuliani. Others can't compare.

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