It's been a good week for Rudy Giuliani.
He received a rousing welcome in California one week ago today.
He announced twice that he's running for president, once on Larry King and once on Sean Hannitty's TV show. And he still gets to officially announce sometime soon, commanding more press coverage.
And a slew of polls came out this week, nearly all showing Giuliani ahead of John McCain, who right now is considered the frontrunner by most professional pundits.
The argument goes that Giuliani is living off his 9/11 performance and that once Republicans in the reddest of states find out he's been married three times, is pro-abortion, pro-gun-control and pro-gay-rights his support will dissolve.
In the National Journal's latest bi-weekly rankings of Republican presidential candidates (they do the Dems in the intervening weeks) Giuliani is third, behind Mitt Romney who is a distant third in many polls and barely registers in others.
The National Journal's rankings are based on a number of factors, poll performance being only one, and the editors there -like many of the traditional punditry sources- just don't think he's likely to survive the vetting process of the Republican Party.
It's almost a year away from the start of the primary season, but the polls to this point -especially those released this week- indicate lots of Republicans may be willing to look the other way on Giuliani's social positions and personal flaws if they think he'd be a winner in '08.
Take the FOX News poll for instance. In a one-on-one race against McCain (which granted isn't likely to occur in the real world), Giuliani comes out on top 56% to 31% among Republicans and 50% to 27% among independent voters. Just two months earlier, Giuliani was ahead of McCain by just two points among GOP voters and DOWN by 6 points among independents.
There appears to be one bit of negative news for Giuliani in the Fox poll. Among all voters polled, 36% said "under no condition" would they vote for Giuliani. But, that number is at 40% for McCain. And, among Republicans only 17% said they would not vote for Giulani under any condition, while McCain's numbers among Republicans is at 25% - one in four. Among indepedendents Giulani polls at 30% in this negative category, while McCain is at 42%.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll this week also shows Giuliani surging against McCain. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Giuliani is ahead of McCain 40% to 31%, while Mitt Romney -who most pundits predict will outlast Giuliani- is at 5%. Just one month ago McCain was AHEAD of Giuliani in this poll (27% to 24%). That's a swing of 12 points in just one month.
As in the Fox Poll, the personal negative for Giuliani is outweighed by that of McCain. While 30% of those polled said they would rule out voting for someone who married three times (a question obviously pertaining to Giuliani), 42% of those polled ruled out voting for someone who is 72 years old (McCain is the only one who fits that description this time around).
Not too surprisingly, Giuliani cleaned up in a Quinnipiac University poll of New Yorkers this week. He also won two of the four stawide polls released this week by American Research Group -Alabama and Oklahoma- while finishing second to McCain in the Arizona senator's home state and third to Mitt Romney and McCain in Utah, where Romney's Mormon background gave him a huge boost.
"He is much stronger than anyone could have predicted six months ago," said former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich from Georgia. "New York is four times safer than it used to be. It's one of the greatest achievements of government capability in the 20th century. And Rudy just has to go out and say, 'This is who I am. If you think the world's dangerous, and you need a tough guy … that's me.' " - Newt Gingrich on Rudy Giuliani
Abortion may be the deal-breaker for many on the far right, but Giuliani has recently been softening-up his pro-abortion stance.
The key will be just how much looking-the-other way social conservatives are willing to do. Last week in California they seemed to be in the mood to overlook Rudy's warts.
"I'm a Christian, and his (Giuliani's) views on a lot of social issues are to the left of mine," said Larry Stirling, a retired state superior court judge from San Diego. "But if you have to make a trade-off, I'll make the trade-off for Giuliani. He's been through a trial by fire. He's got gravitas. The first thing a president has to do is protect us. The rest is a secondary consideration." - GOP voter Larry Stirling as quoted by the Washington Post