Give credit where it’s due to Mike Murphy.
For one thing, his comments on a Ricochet podcast over a week ago still seem to be roiling the waters here on the site. You may not agree with his conclusions on everything (scratch that – if you’re a paying member, you almost certainly don’t agree with his conclusions on everything), but that’s still a wonderful development on a site dedicated to spirited discussion.
Second, at least one of Mike’s predictions already looks headed towards validation. During the podcast, he forecasted that Rick Perry would throw his hat in the ring following the Ames Straw Poll in August. Now, further confirmation of that likelihood is coming from no less a figure than Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, per a report from CNN.
That tees up the scenario I wrote about earlier in the week: Perry jockeying for position with Michele Bachmann to become the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. But what if Romney’s front-runner status among establishment Republicans turns out to be weaker than we thought? For the predicate for this (perhaps far-fetched) scenario, consider this from Politico:
… Rudy Giuliani says he’s seriously considering another White House run — a bid that would look dramatically different than his campaign four years ago…
[Former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Wayne] Semprini, who has existed as something of a one-man Granite State band for the former mayor, believes there is a strong case to be made for Giuliani in the 2012 election, a race that all sides agree will play out around the economy.
“It’s a fact, and the reason for that is, we know who we’re up against, we know what the issues are and most Republicans recognize that it’s going to a take tough fiscal conservatives like Rudy Giuliani [to address the nation’s ills],” Semprini said.
Any resuscitation of Giuliani after his disastrous 2008 campaign is certainly a long shot. In fact, the same could be said of Giuliani getting in the race at all.
But let’s put that aside and assume that Giuliani gets in and is able to convince voters to at least give him a second look. Is it unreasonable at that point to think that he could pose a formidable threat to Romney amongst center-right primary voters?
Consider the following: though Romney touts his business bona fides as being transferrable to federal politics, Giuliani has already demonstrated that he can govern as a fiscal conservative. While mayor of New York, he cut taxes, held down spending, presided over a huge decline in unemployment, and led privatization initiatives to cut down the size of government. You can argue that a portion of New York’s renewed vibrancy owed to national trends in the 1990s, but Giuliani has shown that he has the right instincts on these issues and the courage to act on his convictions. That’s a far cry from the man who gave us Romneycare.
On foreign policy, Giuliani’s credentials as a national security hawk far outstrip Romney’s (perhaps unfairly – Giuliani showed great courage and leadership in the aftermath of 9/11, but that’s not the same as having the right instincts to be commander-in-chief). And on social issues – where Giuliani’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriage stances put him afoul of the base – it’s not clear that he represents a worse option than Romney. After all, Romney has held nearly every position conceivable on these issues over the length of his career. Giuliani at least is honest about where he is. And given his background in the conservative legal movement, it’s not unreasonable to conjecture that his judicial appointments could be more conservative than the ‘pragmatic’ Romney’s.
Neither Giuliani nor Romney are candidates that devout conservatives are likely to relish in a vacuum. But if given the choice between the two, I wonder if a majority wouldn’t choose the former. And I bet Giuliani wonders the same thing.