The Fix today suggested that Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign is counting on Florida to launch his nomination.
Giuliani has a strong national lead, but is behind in the Iowa, the earliest test of a presidential candidate, and the second test, New Hampshire, remains in flux. However, his lead in Florida is double his overall national lead.
A powerpoint presentation made to Florida volunteers of the Giuliani campaign (dismissed by the national staff as a simple tool to motivate volunteers - apparently we are easily fooled here in Florida) described the Florida primary as a "firewall" for the campaign - able to offset and even reverse the effects of possible early losses.
Most interesting to this blogger is the phone script included in the powerpoint.
The first question in the script asks respondents who their first choice is to be president -- giving them five options: Giuliani, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), or "one of the other candidates."
Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads the polls in Iowa and who has been the strongest fundraiser on the Republican side, is missing from that list.
Obviously, they cannot pretend he is a negligible factor (otherwise, McCain, whose campaign has imploded and whose organization is nearly broke).
The only reasonable expectation is that they consider him to be the biggest threat in the field, so are trying diminish him among Florida Republicans.
Giuliani has reason to be nervous. Romney appears to have the support of Jeb Bush's operation, which implies the tacit or behind the scenes support of Jeb himself. Romney is clearly also running the best managed campaign of any in the Republican field. He has had his gaffes and difficult moments, but no Republican has put together a stronger operation in the field (both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama on the Democratic side are running superior campaigns to any GOP candidate).