First, let’s dispatch the seven non-contenders with two simple words: Rick Lazio. Lazio was a fine New York congressman and a decent candidate who was blown away by Hillary Clinton in the worst campaign she is ever going to run in her life. Republicans aren’t going to pick another lightweight. They need a heavy-hitter, and they know it.
Giuliani is, without a doubt, a political heavyweight. National polls show he can take out Hillary, and Republican voters know it. He’s got the big name, he’s got the leadership credentials, he’s got the bipartisan appeal.
The question raised Thursday night was “Will he show up?” Rudy’s debate performance was Rocky II before Adrian woke up. He was mentally flabby, his answers were sloppy, and he appeared largely uninterested by the entire event. Giuliani being unprepared for a question on abortion is like John Edwards forgetting his hairbrush. It should never happen.
Getting elected president is hard. It’s tough questions all day, every day. The only thing Giuliani accomplished Thursday night was raising doubts about his desire to fight.
Sen. John McCain, on the other hand, was all “Eye of the Tiger.” He came out swinging, left the stage swinging, and — based on his performance Thursday — is probably being restrained by his aides in a hotel room somewhere as he flails his arms screaming “Lemme at ‘em! Lemme at ‘em!”