"We'll win Florida," Giuliani says
For more than a month, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been in self-imposed political exile, a virtual sideshow as he all but sat...
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — For more than a month, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been in self-imposed political exile, a virtual sideshow as he all but sat out the early primaries to wait for the 2008 presidential contest to arrive in Florida.
That decision appears to be taking a toll. His campaign revealed Friday that top aides are working for free to save money, an indication donors are growing restless as they watch the candidate finish repeatedly at the bottom of the pack.
Campaign aides said money is still flowing in and $7 million is on hand for the Florida primary. But concerns have surfaced that donors may not be interested in throwing good money after bad. "Are they nervous? Sure," said one Washington donor close to the Giuliani campaign.
But the donor added: "Chaos is our friend. And right now, the Republican side is chaotic. The other candidates are in a circular firing squad."
After a town-hall meeting at a charter school in Coral Springs, Fla., on Friday, Giuliani said, "We didn't ask anybody to do it. Some people volunteered to do it because they wanted to stretch out the money."
Giuliani is under increasing pressure to make sure he does not lose in Florida. He has stepped up his television advertising, beginning two new ads Thursday. He proposed what his team called the "largest tax cut in history." On Sunday, he will begin a three-day bus tour across Florida.
"The field is still wide open, which is what we wanted," said campaign manager Michael DuHaime, the man behind what the team calls its "late-state" strategy to win the Republican nomination.
DuHaime confirmed that he and more than a dozen other top advisers and consultants with large salaries stopped being paid as of Jan. 1. "It's about making sure that as much money as we can have, we have," he said.
But he insisted most of the other campaign workers are being paid and the operation is financially healthy.
The candidate, for his part, seems unworried. "We'll win Florida," Giuliani said Friday. "It's an unconventional strategy, but I've never followed conventional wisdom before; it's always worked. "
Advisers hope Giuliani will win Florida's Jan. 29 primary and vault himself back into White House contention before 24 states hold nominating contests a week later. New York and New Jersey will vote that day, as will several other big states, such as California, that Giuliani believes he can win. If all goes according to plan, he would have amassed a significant lead in the hunt for delegates by the end of Feb. 5.
But he has been in a downward spiral from the first-place position he held for months in national polls. In the most recent CNN-Opinion Research survey, Giuliani had the support of 18 percent of likely Republican voters, in third place behind Mike Huckabee, at 21 percent, and Sen. John McCain, at 34 percent.
Despite those numbers, if there is a year Giuliani's approach could work, it may be this one, when none of his rivals is running the table.
Once dominant in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is fighting for his political life. McCain, Huckabee and Fred Thompson are all battling in South Carolina, a Jan. 19 Republican contest that could be fatal to Thompson's hopes and highly damaging to Huckabee's.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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