By John Pratt
11/06/07 — Speaking recently in Londonderry, N,H.,
Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani defended the war in
Iraq and criticized members of the Democratic Party, saying that
they’d again come around in support of it, too.
“Do I think the mission in Iraq is the correct one, without a doubt it
is, “ the former New York mayor told 250 people at a town hall
meeting. “And I think the Democrats are going to change their mind
about it again.”
Giuliani accused Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John
Edwards, D-N,C., two Democratic candidates who initially casted their
Senate votes in favor of the war, of inconsistency in changing their
minds.
“I think Edwards has apologized for (his vote supporting the war),”
Giuliani said. “She hasn’t apologized for it but she said it was a
mistake, but it was George Bush’s mistake. I guess he got her to vote
that way.”
Giuliani’s attack, even as public opinion polls show widespread
discontent with the war effort, scored points with the Republican
base, which has voiced concern about his moderate to liberal views on
family values issues. It also, says Craig Shirley, a GOP strategist
not affiliated with any campaign, keeps him in the news.
“It keeps him relevant,” Shirley said. “It’s probably a wise thing to
do. It engages the Democrats, portrays them as flip-floppers, and
provokes them to come out and respond to him.”
Giuliani’s comments come at a time in which the former mayor has seen
his support drop in both the New Hampshire and Iowa polls, where Gov.
Mitt Romney has widened his lead. But it is Giuliani who still finds
himself ahead in the national polls, and at times he acts as if he’s
actually already the nominee, campaigning against the Democrats,
particularly Hillary Clinton, that party’s front runner.
. “He’s on the offense,” Shirley said of Guiliani. “He’s in motion,
creating things, creating drama… I think he expects to get a bump
(in the polls).”
But in pushing support for the war, Giuliani, and his Republican
opponents — face a dilemma. They just may be alienating independent
voters as they shore up support among the party’s base.
“There’s a political rift there,” said Dante Scala, associate
professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire and
an expert on the state’s presidential primaries.. “It’s a risk, but I
think it might be one worth taking. We don’t know what the situation
in Iraq will be nine months from now. It could be better (than it is
now).”
For now, at least, Giuliani’s aggressive strategy may be paying off. A
recent poll conducted by Columbia University shows Giuliani would be
neck-and-neck with Sen. Clinton, should the two New York heavyweights
meet in next year’s general election. Though other recent polls have
put Clinton ahead, the Columbia poll reported Guiliani with 46 percent
support and Clinton with 44 percent.