has been the surefire way to win modern presidential
primaries: Emerge as the front-runner in Iowa, New Hampshire
or South Carolina, then steamroll through later states
to become the nominee.
Most of the
Republican candidates are betting on this approach for 2008,
but Rudy Giuliani is counting on something simpler: delegate
His plan is based
on the fact that Florida and several other big states,
trying to loosen the grip of the traditional early contests,
are voting earlier than usual to compete for influence
and attention from the candidates.
might help Giuliani capture the nomination, even without the
''must-win'' early states.
been an election like this before, where you have so many
delegate-rich states coming on the heels of the early
primary states, like California, like Illinois,'' says
Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime in an interview
with the Associated Press. ''It is clearly a huge
amount of delegates that are available February 5 in states
where the mayor is leading.''
dominates in national polls -- he leads former Tennessee
senator Fred Thompson 29% to 19% in Associated
Press-Ipsos polling released last week. He has big
leads, too, in California, New York and Florida.
He trails in
polling in Iowa and New Hampshire -- although he's gained
ground in New Hampshire -- and Thompson has been challenging
his lead in South Carolina surveys. That's in part
because conservatives who hold sway over those GOP
primaries are uncomfortable with Giuliani's more
liberal record on cultural issues like abortion and gay
matter most, earlier ones or later, bigger ones?
In Orlando, Fla.,
retired Army colonel Terry Fiest says he doesn't take
marching orders from the early states.
''I think Iowa is
a myth,'' Fiest says. ''Iowa is like the starting gate
of a marathon. I don't even gauge Iowa.''
His friend Craig
Hartwig, who lives in Mount Doro, Fla., adds, ''We're
not bandwagon people.''
led Florida to move its primary from March to January 29,
four weeks after Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.
states drew punishment last week, with party officials
slashing their convention delegates by half, for violating
rules against holding primaries before February 5. The
penalties apply to New Hampshire, Florida, South
Carolina, Michigan, and Wyoming. Iowa will not be
penalized because its January 3 caucuses technically are
nonbinding, and the same is true of Nevada's
vote on January 19.
To win the GOP
nomination, a candidate must amass a majority of the 2,380
national convention delegates, most of whom are pledged to
support the winner of their state or district.
After nearly half
the states hold nominating contests on February 5,
Giuliani, the former New York mayor, could hold a commanding
lead in the delegate count.
has wide leads in bigger states with more delegates, such as
Florida (57 delegates), California (173), New York (101),
New Jersey (52), and Illinois (70). He's expected to
capture Connecticut (30) and Delaware (18) too. He
campaigned Monday in Missouri (58), another big prize,
whose senior senator, four-term Republican Kit Bond,
recently endorsed Giuliani.
where he doesn't win on February 5, Giuliani could still
come in second and win delegates. Big states in this
category might include Georgia (72), Alabama (48), or
Tennessee (55). Only a few -- New York, New Jersey,
Connecticut, Delaware, and Missouri among them -- award
delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Other winner-take-all
states, Arizona (53) and Utah (36), are expected to go
for John McCain and Mitt Romney, respectively.
voting after February 5, including Maryland (37), Ohio (88),
and Pennsylvania (74), also hold potential for
Giuliani to roll up most or some of the delegates.
Giuliani has a
good shot at winning an early state or two as well. He has
gained ground on former Massachusetts governor Romney in New
Hampshire (12 delegates), where Giuliani ranks second
in polls, and has battled Thompson for the lead in
South Carolina (24).
He is spending
more time in New Hampshire and in recent weeks has been
mailing fliers to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's
also run radio ads there.
rivals say that if he fails to capture an early state his
math won't add up. They argue a candidate just can't count
on winning the later states without factoring in the
winner of the early contests.
Whoever wins Iowa
-- and Romney has a double-digit lead there -- will be
viewed as the leader going into the next few contests,
officials in other campaigns insist.
''People want to
vote for a winner,'' says Carl Forti, political director
of Romney's campaign. ''And the winner is determined by who
is on the front page of the papers and who is
perceived as the front-runner after those early
History backs up
this claim: Democrats John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and
Michael Dukakis all came from behind to win Iowa, then
gathered steam to eventually win their party's
nomination; Republican George W. Bush, after winning
Iowa but losing New Hampshire to Arizona senator McCain,
managed to win South Carolina and become the 2000
''Win the early
states, and you get momentum and money,'' says Rich Bond,
a former Republican National Committee chairman. ''The
question is, is that momentum and money a big enough
wave to capsize Giuliani, who may not have won any of
those early states?''
suggest the earlier primaries could make the first
states more influential, not less. Florida is so expensive
to run television advertisements in that media
coverage of the early leader will have a big impact,
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis says.
''If you don't
have momentum going into February 5, forget about it. And
I think that's equally true in Florida,'' Davis says.
Al Cardenas, a
former Florida Republican Party chairman who is supporting
Romney, agrees: ''The winner of the early primaries will
carry an enormous slingshot effect into later races,''
strategy -- momentum or simple math -- Giuliani's campaign
wagers it can win. (Libby Quaid, AP)