The Campaign Spot

Is Rudy to the Netroots As Hillary Is to the Rightroots?

On Captain Ed’s show, I appeared with Chris Cillizza of the WashingtonPost.com. Cillizza noted that Giuliani’s name is starting to be mentioned by the candidates in the Democratic debates, even though he’s nowhere near as close to clinching the nomination as Hillary Clinton is.
This reminded me of something I heard from my liberal co-bloggers on that New Hampshire trip. I asked them which Republican they would most like to take on in the general election – not synonymous with who they think is weakest, but who they want to see the Democratic candidate beat the most – and they each said Rudy Giuliani. Presuming they’re representative (and we’re dealing with a sample of four or five, so don’t read too much into this), Rudy is hated like no other Republican candidate. At first glance, this seems a bit odd, since it’s not too hard to make the case that he’s not the most conservative (abortion, gay rights, guns), and you would think that diehard liberals would be most irked at the most conservative…
Cillizza wondered if this is because of Giuliani’s association with 9/11, and I would tend to agree. The netroots don’t buy that there was anything heroic about the mayor’s performance that day; they think he was just in the right place in the right time to appear like a leader, not that he actually was one. Giuliani is gradually replacing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove as most hated figure among the netroots.
Cillizza noted Democrats feel war on terror has been politicized, and rattled off reflections of that – Edwards saying the war on terror is just a bumper sticker slogan, Obama refusing to wear his flag pin – and cited Democrats’ anger over the Senate campaign ads in Georgia in 2002, Bush’s references to 9/11 in his ads in 2004, the GOP Convention that year, etc. The netroots may think that by beating Rudy, they can beat back the image of Republicans as strong on national security that is so rooted in that central, era-defining event.

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