Just six weeks ago, Rudy Giuliani's standing in the national presidential polls had his legions of local supporters riding high.
But after new polls on Monday showed the former mayor of New York badly trailing Sen. John McCain … even on home turf … just about everyone realizes he must win Florida or pack up and come home.
His local supporters, however, remain optimistic.
"These polls are just a snapshot in time," said Erie County Republican Chairman James P. Domagalski, a top Giuliani supporter in Western New York. "These polls have changed literally 100 times.
"But regardless of the poll," he added, "I believe New Yorkers will vote for their favorite son … Rudy Giuliani. When they get into the voting booth, they'll remember what he did on Sept. 11."
That started out as the central Giuliani strategy … cast the former mayor as the leader who took decisive action in the tragedy's aftermath and as someone who could deal with terrorists and rogue states around the world.
But amid a plummeting stock market and mounting fears of a national recession, some observers say that theme no longer ranks as the top concern of Florida … or even New York … voters. As a result, the former mayor is retooling and shooting at McCain for opposing President Bush's tax cut program several years ago.
Now the Giuliani hope is that the large crowds he has been drawing in Florida will translate into a victory there on Jan. 29, and that the original strategy of building on that momentum for "Super Duper Tuesday" (which includes New York), will still hold true.
--- Robert J. McCarthy
taggedRace for the White House