2008 is full of teachable moments. One of the under studied lessons of that year is Rudolph Giuliani’s campaign. The problem was that it was also the lesson of 2007 and most of 2006. Rudy suffered extreme overexposure and his campaign rapidly burnt out when the field naturally broadened during the primary process. It’s a lesson he seems to have taken to heart. Giuliani has positioned himself brilliantly to take the nomination in 2012.
The Republican Party’s tradition of primogenitor has suffered a pretty significant blow; it is not easy to find a candidate with a legitimate claim. Politico’s Jonathan Martin is among several political reporters that have cited Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful run at the presidency in 2008 as evidence of his potential to take the nomination. The same has been said of Sarah Palin, the Party’s only formally endorsed presidential candidate in the 2012 race. Rudy has similar claim to primogenitor, perhaps stronger than the current front runners. Rudy spent nearly three years in the hot seat as the front runner for the GOP nomination in 2008. He has logged more time in the national political cross hairs as any of the present candidates. The (usual) result of this process has been the unearthing of all his potentially campaign-derailing skeletons. Rudy has been vetted by the press, thoroughly.
Since 2008, Giuliani has kept his profile relatively low while at the same time never completely disappearing from public life. Last November, the news that Rudy was “strongly considering a Senate run” was leaked, only to be personally denied month later. A similar story surrounds Giuliani’s publically expressed interest in the Governorship of New York last April. Each announcement and subsequent retraction has crafted the image of an elder statesman turned citizen, emerging from his self-imposed isolation only to fend off attempts to draft him back into the political fray. Even if it is simply an attempt to keep Giuliani’s name from completely fading from memory, it has been successful.
Over the weekend, the CPAC Conference straw poll showed that a majority of the attendants wished “the GOP had a better field of candidates.” Take the results for what they are worth, that same straw poll nominated Ron Paul by a wide margin. However, if Rudy wanted to run again he would be well positioned to take advantage of that sentiment. He has made no noise about running and the press has overlooked him. He could enter the race in 2011 as a new face for a change; rescuing a fractious party from an uninspiring list of candidates to unseat a potentially vulnerable President.
There is the caveat that 2012 is a political eternity away. Giuliani is presently engaged; he has signed on to help combat crime in Rio de Jenero ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. While he would probably cancel the contract for a successful Presidential bid, any number of events could change the cost-benefit calculation of a run between now and then. Republican’s prospective 2010 success could dissipate some of the enthusiasm on the GOP side by 2012, making the prospects of taking on an incumbent not worth the risk. President Obama could score a political victory at home or abroad in the interim that would halt and even reverse the descending trend in his approval numbers. Another star could rise within the party or one of the candidates already in nomination process could emerge as the best possible candidate. However, if none of those things happen, Rudy would be advised to run.