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Cover Story June 28, 2006


 

 

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by lyle e davis

As of this writing two candidates appear most likely to get the Republican nod as chief candidate for the Presidenital run of 2008. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice is mentioned but has repeatedly disavowed any interest in running. All three poll well amongst Republicans. In this study, we look at the two likely front runners and offer background on both. We do not look at the Democratic candidates. Not yet, at least. We have no indication of either probable candidates or a policy/platform upon which they are likely to run. Both McCain and Giuliani appear to have solid platforms and policy issues.

Both men have a great many positives. Both are demonstrably heroic. Both have demonstrated remarkable leadership. Both have a loyal base of supporters. McCain, a Navy fighter pilot who was shot down in North Vietnam and held as a prisoner for 5 1/2 years . . and turned down an opportunity for early release (because he was the son of a prominent Navy Admiral), insisting that men who had been prisoners for longer than he had should be released first. Giuliani displayed legendary leadership following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11/01. He is largely credited with providing the leadership that invigorated his city’s teams, reassured his city’s residents, and got New York City back on its feet in a remarkably short period of time. Both candidates are effective legislators . . . McCain supporting the successful McCain-Feingold Bill (dealing with campaign finance reform), backs an Immigration Bill, the Kennedy-McCain Bill. Both have survived cancer, McCain surviving melanoma, Giuliani surviving prostate cancer (which cancer caused him to bow out of the Senate race against Hillary Clinton). Both have broken first marriages as a result of admitted commissions of adultery. Both appear happily remarried today. McCain supports the Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill which provides for a guest worker program (which has many far right Republicans totally opposed) . . . Giuliani, in a 1998 speech appeared to support illegal immigrants and sought expanded state and federal support for these immigrants . . . regardless of their legal status. Though Giuliani’s well documented lax position on illegal immigration may jump up and bite him in the backside during a campaign, he currently supports Bush and the Kennedy-McCain bill for a comprehensive immigration reform package (which includes a guestworker program). Both candidates have great strengths. Both have some weaknesses. We examine both in the following analysis:

Mayor Rudy Giuliani

"In choosing a president, we really don't choose a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal. We choose a leader."
—Rudolph W. Giuliani

The former mayor of New York City, he is ranked as the most popular person in national politics. A Republican who is considered a possible candidate for president in 2008, edged out Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a recent (March 7, 2006) Quinnipiac poll of 1,892 registered voters nationwide who were asked to rank selected politicians on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being most favorable.

The Newsday account linked above lists these selected figures:

Hillary Clinton 50.4%
Bill Clinton 56.1%
Condoleezza Rice 57.1%
John McCain 59.7%
Barack Obama 59.9%
Rudolph Giuliani 63.5%

Mr. Giuliani's advisors are only now starting to talk openly about the outlines of a possible national bid, but they say he could enter the race at the start of 2007, or even later, and still assemble a team and raise tens of millions of dollars in a relatively short time.

Mr. Giuliani has been amassing political chits by raising money for candidates in politically important states, like California, Iowa, Michigan and New Jersey.

"A lot of the events we've done have really laid the groundwork to go, if we need to, to raise money nationally," said Anthony V. Carbonetti, Mr. Giuliani's political point man, who is already planning campaign stops for July and August. "We really have a road map."

The Mayor's pro-abortion rights, gay rights and gun control positions are likely to repel more conservative Republican voters, whose influence is greatest during the primaries. And he likely can't continue to count on cachet from his performance in the wake of September 11.

Sunny Mindel, Mr. Giuliani's spokeswoman, said media scrutiny would not deter him from running. "Anybody who runs for president knows and understands that if they make that decision, the clock in terms of the media goes back to square one," Ms. Mindel said.

Most members of Mr. Giuliani's circle express optimism that the political landscape in 2008 will be hospitable to a candidate with Mr. Giuliani's background and expertise. Significantly, several friends say, Mr. Giuliani's wife, Judith Nathan, has made clear that she strongly supports the idea of his running for president.

"If the issues in 2008 are the war on terror and leadership, Rudy scores a 10," said Vincent A. LaPadula, who was an official in the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations and is now an investment banker. "The only other person in that class is Senator McCain."

The case for Rudy for President is of course much deeper than his September 11 work.

"Giuliani is an anvil-tough, free-market reformer who dramatically limited Gotham's government."
—Deroy Murdock, National Review Online Contributing Editor

Between January 1, 1994, and January 1, 2002, Giuliani famously supervised a 57-percent overall drop in crime and a 65-percent plunge in homicides.

Giuliani curbed or killed 23 taxes totaling $8 billion. He slashed Gotham's top income-tax rate 21 percent and local taxes' share of personal income 15.9 percent. Giuliani called hiking taxes after September 11 "a dumb, stupid, idiotic, and moronic thing to do."

Giuliani's spending increases averaged just 2.9 percent annually. His fiscal 1995 and 2002 budgets actually decreased total outlays.
While hiring 12 percent more cops and 12.8 percent more teachers, Giuliani sliced manpower 17.2 percent, from 117,494 workers to 97,338.

Rather than "perpetuate discrimination," Giuliani junked Gotham's 20 percent set-asides for female and minority contractors.

Two years before federal welfare reform, Giuliani began shrinking public-assistance rolls from 1,112,490 recipients in 1993 to 462,595 in 2001, a 58.4-percent decrease to 1966 levels. He also renamed welfare offices "Job Centers." According to Giuliani's book, Leadership, in fiscal 2001, City Hall placed 151,376 welfare beneficiaries into jobs, a 16-fold increase over 1993's 9,215 assignments under Democrat David Dinkins.

Foster-care residents dropped from 42,000 to 28,700 between 1996 and 2001, while adoptions zoomed 65 percent to 21,189.

Giuliani privatized 69.8 percent of city-owned apartments; sold WNYC-TV, WNYC-FM, WNYC-AM, and Gotham's share of the U.N. Plaza Hotel; and invited the private Central Park Conservancy to manage Manhattan's 843-acre rectangular garden.

Giuliani advocated school vouchers, launched a Charter School Fund, and scrapped tenure for principals.

While many libertarians frowned, Giuliani padlocked porn shops in Times Square, paving the way for smut-free cineplexes and Disney musicals.

Giuliani barnstorms for conservative candidates. Last fall, he addressed 38 post-convention Bush-Cheney rallies and stumped for Senator Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.), Senator Mel Martinez (R., Fla.), gubernatorial hopeful Dino Rossi (R., Wash.), Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Tex.), and Senator John Thune (R., S. D.), the man who toppled Tom Daschle. "We also taped get-out-the-vote phone messages for 20 candidates," one Giuliani aide recalls. This February, Giuliani spoke at a fundraiser for Senator Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.).

Nonetheless, Murdock (National Review) correctly concludes that "many conservatives remain unmoved. They liken him to a luxury car with plush seats, dynamite speakers, excellent mileage, and three slight problems: No steering wheel, no tires, and no engine." His prescription is for Giuliani to pick off Sen. Clinton in 2006: "As America's mayor marches on Washington, his next step should be to snatch the former First Lady's Senate seat in November 2006. Rudy Giuliani's best bet for winning the White House in 2008 is to eliminate the American Right's foe-in-chief two years sooner."

He may run for Senate, and Murdock is correct that if he sends the Democrats' presumptive 2008 forerunner back to private life he will bolster his conservative credit. To the extent though that security and the war on terror continue to dominate the electoral dynamic, Giuliani may have more wind at his back in the 2008 primaries than generally thought. He may then get a shot at Sen. Clinton that November.

Senator John McCain

Astute political observers have been watching John McCain's impeding run for President in 2008 with much interest. He appears to be one of only two major challengers the GOP has to a Clinton nomination.

Sen. John McCain's friends believe the probability of his trying again for president in 2008 has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent, with only the question of his future health raising doubt about his
candidacy.
McCain, who has suffered skin cancer, is reported by friends to be in excellent health. But he is said to be pondering prospects for a man his age. He would be, at age 72, the oldest man ever elected president.

There remains a serious question as to whether the far right ideologues will come out for McCain, especially in Alabama and South Carolina.

John McCain was first elected to represent the state of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. As a longtime admirer of Ronald Reagan, McCain was an early foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution. He served two terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 1985. He was re-elected to a third Senate term in November 1998. In that election, he received nearly 70% of the vote, a total which included 65% of the women's vote, 55% of the Hispanic vote, and even 40% of the Democrats.

Senator McCain is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and has in that capacity become a recognized leader on telecommunications and aviation issues, stressing the need to promote competition and government deregulation in the industries that are so important to the growth of our
economy.

The son and grandson of prominent Navy admirals, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1958, McCain began a twenty-two year career as a naval aviator. In 1967 he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner-of-war in Hanoi for five and a half years (1967-1973), much of it in solitary confinement. He retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1981. McCain's naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.

Michael Kinsley, founding editor of Slate.com and former tv commentator has an interesting analysis of McCain:
He is the charming, funny, intelligent, and heroic Republican senator from Arizona. McCain's positions as to a strong right-to-life stand on abortion, or his strong support for the war are well known. His friends, supporters, and even some opponents respect McCain as an honest man among sneaks, a straight shooter amid bull artists. They long, understandably, for some fresh air in the fetid atmosphere of politics. And McCain delivers that. He makes jokes at his own expense. That's attractive in a politician, but sometimes it is nothing more than a party trick. Journalists love him, of course. His frankness flatters us.

In a presidential run, he would have the votes of millions who disagree with him on major issues but like him anyway. His challenge is to get the votes of more people who agree with him. The fact that his base of support is people who disagree with him explains both why so many ideological soul mates dislike him, and why they may support him anyway. It's because they think he is their best shot at winning. Thus if McCain becomes president, it will be the result of a cynical calculation by people who don't like him even though they agree with him, on top of support by people who disagree with him but admire his lack of cynicism.

McCain is like another larger-than-life character in American politics: Colin Powell. Both men are so admirable and so likable that people convince themselves against all evidence that Powell or McCain must agree with them on the big issues.

McCain has said "there's no point" in formally announcing his candidacy until after the 2006 congressional elections. But the Arizona Republican didn't skip a beat when asked why he would want to run for the White House in 2008.

"Because we live in a time of great challenges," McCain said in an interview with Arizona Daily Star editors and reporters.
Chief among them is the war on terror, a "transcendent issue" likely to last for years, he said. But there is "a broad variety of domestic challenges" as well. Sounding much like a candidate ticking off the priorities of his platform, McCain said they include immigration, Social Security, global warming, rising health-care costs and the "obscene" spending practices of Washington.
"My ego is sufficient to say that I think I have the background and experience to take on these challenges," he said.

Asked about possible opposition to his candidacy from conservatives, McCain cited polls that show he and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani are "the two most popular" members of the Republican Party.

That, he indicated, is a crucial factor in deciding whether he'll seek the presidency.

"As long as I have strong approval and support from most of the Republican Party, then running is a viable option," he said.

A recent poll by the Gallup Organization found that McCain's favorable ratings have consistently hovered above 50 percent since 2002, two years after he ran for the Republican nomination for president against George W. Bush.

McCain touts himself as a conservative on many fiscal issues, but moderate on social issues causing some conservatives to ridicule him as a Republican In Name Only. His appeal during the 2000 presidential campaign was based on style and personal image rather than any label of liberal, conservative, moderate or libertarian.

McCain is often called a "maverick senator" because of his willingness to break with the party line. He was one of only four Republicans in the entire U.S. Congress to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. He was the only Republican senator to vote against the Telecommunications Act of 1995, which he called "the biggest rip-off since the Teapot Dome Scandal." He was also the only Republican senator to vote against the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, which phased out many of the farming subsidy programs put into place during the Great Depression. His concerns over global warming and other environmental issues have also put him at odds with the Bush administration and other Republicans. In addition, he voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, reaffirming his position as a social moderate. Sourcewatch.org
McCain has succeeded in shepherding through Congress substantial legislation, including the Campaign Finance Reform legislation, (the McCain-Feingold Bill), the McCain Detainee Amendment, which opposed torture of detainees/POW’s, he is a member of several powerful committees, including Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

In one of his most moving speeches, Senator John McCain said the following:

As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POWs 10,000 miles from home.
One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old.

At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967.

Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country, and our military, provide for people who want to work and want to succeed. As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle.

Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell, it was indeed the most important and meaningful event.
One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours.

Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag.

He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to pledge our allegiance to our flag and country.

So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our nation and promote freedom around the world.

You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

 

 

 

 

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