Opinion: Giuliani takes a break

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At least one presidential candidate has decided to kick back during the last gasp of the holiday season. The motivation, however, may have more to do with political realities than tradition.

The schedule for Republican Rudy Giuliani shows he’s off today and Tuesday. Maybe he’s a hard-core fan of college bowl games. More likely, he simply recognized that spending his time in Iowa -- like virtually every other presidential contender -- would be pointless.

Indeed, Giuliani clearly has written off the Hawkeye State (despite a brief tour there Saturday). When he resumes campaigning Wednesday, he’ll be in New Hampshire. And on Thursday night, when dutiful Iowans troop off into the cold to attend their caucus sites and officially kick off the nominating process, Giuliani will be in Florida (with a small, but no doubt grateful, contingent in tow).

Iowa, where evangelicals are an especially key component of the GOP, always was a bad match for a candidate trying to get his party to ignore his liberal positions on social issues and concentrate on his commitment to fighting terrorism. Giuliani’s indifference toward Iowa was signaled when he took a pass on competing in the summer’s Republican straw poll. (State party members returned the disinterest: He got barely 1% of the vote in the contest.)


The question that long has surrounded the Giuliani strategy is whether a pathetic showing in Iowa will create a negative snowball effect for him, leading to such poor showings in the high-profile primaries that quickly follow -- New Hampshire and South Carolina -- that his political stock will be severely damaged by the time Florida Republicans vote on Jan. 29.

While he’s resting, Giuliani can content himself with one bit of positive press: He was endorsed today by a New Hampshire newspaper, Foster’s Daily Democrat.

-- Don Frederick