NY Times reveals farce of politics


Richard Moore

We see here a realistic outline of what political strategies are about.

Nothing to do with what people want or need. Nothing to do with an expression of
what the candidates really stand for. Everything to do with corralling voters 
and garnering campaign funds.


Original source URL:

July 19, 2007

Candidates Shift as G.O.P. Field Alters

WASHINGTON, July 18 ‹ The decline of John McCain¹s presidential campaign, and 
the rising profile of Fred D. Thompson as a prospective contender, are forcing 
candidates to rewrite their strategies as they adjust to a playing field vastly 
different from just one month ago.

Seeing an opening created by Mr. McCain¹s problems, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New 
York headed for Iowa on Wednesday, the start of a two-day trip that reflects the
campaign¹s confidence that he now has a shot to win in the state, after Mr. 
McCain cut his Iowa staff by half. And Mitt Romney of Massachusetts released a 
television advertisement Monday emphasizing faith and family values in what 
aides said was an effort to stir unease about Mr. Giuliani among conservative 
voters who have gravitated toward him.

But it is the impending entry of Mr. Thompson ‹ the former Tennessee senator 
who, aides said Wednesday, plans to enter the race with a national announcement 
tour just after Labor Day ‹ that has injected the most uncertainty into the 
contest. Across the board, Republicans said they were uncertain how strong a 
candidate Mr. Thompson might be in his first national campaign and how much 
money he could raise.

Aides to Mr. Romney and Mr. Thompson said they increasingly fear that their 
candidates would divide conservative votes. That could provide an opening for 
Mr. Giuliani as he moves to capture moderate supporters of Mr. McCain.

Anticipating Mr. Thompson¹s entry into the race, Mr. Romney¹s advisers said they
had begun examining Mr. Thompson¹s record and plan to highlight his work as a 
trial lawyer and Washington lobbyist. They also said they thought they could 
raise doubts about him among conservatives by noting his support, along with Mr.
McCain, of campaign finance legislation that has been widely criticized by 

The shifting strategies reflect a Republican campaign that remains in 
extraordinary flux, particularly compared with the Democratic field. In the 
space of a month, the party has witnessed not only the near-collapse of the 
campaign of Mr. McCain, once considered the party¹s most formidable contender, 
but also the ascendancy in polls of Mr. Thompson, a former actor.

To confront a Thompson candidacy, Mr. Romney¹s aides said they were adding to 
their forces in South Carolina, the state with the fourth nominating contest, in
hopes of handing Mr. Thompson a decisive defeat in a state with a heavy 
conservative population and where he presumably has regional appeal.

Mr. Romney¹s television advertisement, focusing on family values, was intended 
as the first in what staff members said would be a full-fledged challenge to Mr.
Thompson for conservative voters who have seemed unhappy with their choice of 

³I wouldn¹t use the word threat ‹ it¹s a competition,² said Kevin Madden, an 
adviser to Mr. Romney. ³We have to compete with Fred Thompson for conservative 
votes. Right now we¹d expect that he¹d look at South Carolina as the state where
he is going to play the strongest.²

Mr. Thompson¹s advisers, saying they would speak only anonymously until their 
candidate gets into the race, confirmed that assessment, saying that Mr. 
Thompson intended to present himself as the most conservative candidate in the 
race and would go to South Carolina as part of his announcement swing.

They said they were confident Mr. Thompson would more than hold his own against 
Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani, and he has spent this time hiring workers ‹ he has 
20 in two offices ‹ and studying position papers, holding fund-raisers and 
soliciting supporters.

In interviews, aides to the Republican candidates said they did not want to say 
or do anything ‹ like poaching former McCain aides ‹ that could offend Mr. 
McCain and complicate any effort to win his endorsement should he drop out of 
the race.

Without exception, aides to the leading Republican candidates said they had not 
written Mr. McCain off, given his stated determination to stay in the race and 
his long history in national politics. For one thing, they said, Mr. McCain 
could ultimately display strength in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2000 and 
where he is now focusing much of his energy.

And independent voters in New Hampshire are allowed to vote in the Republican 
primary, so a successful effort by Mr. McCain there could complicate Mr. 
Giuliani¹s effort there, since he is appealing to many of the same voters.

Mr. Giuliani¹s associates said their polling suggested that Mr. Giuliani and Mr.
McCain were competing for many of the same moderate and independent voters. In 
an interview in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Mr. Giuliani, asked if he 
worried about Mr. Thompson¹s possible entry into the race, responded, ³I try not
to,² but went on to clearly signal his appreciation of how the political terrain
had changed.

"I can¹t control what Thompson does and I can¹t control what Romney does and I 
can¹t control what John McCain does,² Mr. Giuliani said. ³Maybe I can react to 
ultimately what they do? But I try and think about what¹s our strategy, and our 
strategy is to try and have a proportionate effort in these states, to try as 
best we can to put ourselves in a good position in the big states and then try 
and win as many of the smaller states as possible."

Still, Mr. Giuliani used his first major speech in Iowa on this trip to pledge, 
as president, to appoint ³strict constructionist judges,² as he sought to push 
back against Mr. Romney¹s efforts to undercut his standing among conservative 
voters who are so important there.

Supporters of Mr. Thompson in several states say he has already begun laying the
groundwork for a campaign, particularly in the South and Midwest. Workers are 
being assembled, important elected officials are seeking endorsements, and 
supporters are raising money as if a real campaign were already under way.

Mr. Thompson¹s aides said he intended to run in all the major states.

³There are great things happening in Florida for Fred Thompson,² said 
Representative Adam H. Putnam, Republican of Florida. ³There are now over 30 
State House members who have endorsed. The team he¹s building in Florida is a 
solid one.²

Susan Saulny contributed reporting from Chicago, and Marc Santora from Sioux 
City, Iowa.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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