Chicken

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I don’t want to kick Rudy around any more. But the funny thing about Rudy is that while he ran on ‘staying on offense’ against Islamic bad guys, his whole race was defined by running away from fights. We’ve talked a lot about his alleged ‘strategy’ of ignoring the early races and focusing all his energy on Florida which would launch him to glory on Super Tuesday. And it’s an open secret that this ‘strategy’ was really more a work-in-progress rationalization for his collapse of support in the early states. Rudy, I believe, outspent everyone in New Hampshire. And he campaigned there a lot.

But it’s more than that. If you look closely, every time it didn’t look like it was going to be an easy victory in a state, Rudy’s campaign packed up and left. Or not quite packed up, but basically backed out, made an occasional visit, said it’d be nice to win but that it wasn’t really necessary. It was somewhat the case in Iowa, totally the case in New Hampshire and the same in South Carolina too. I think it was the same basically in Michigan, though I’m not as familiar with the particulars there.

Whatever else you can say about Mitt Romney, he decided to make a stand Michigan, realizing that he had to get a victory on the board to credibly go on.

With Rudy, he just finally ran out of places to run.

Piling on Update: The post-mortem the Times ran last night was hilariously devastating. But this piece from the Guardian ain’t bad either (note the reference to the “old Clinton/Carter approach”) …

The New Year’s Eve memo that landed in the inboxes of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign team was buoyant. Written by Brent Seaborn, one of the former New York mayor’s key strategists, it rejected “the old Clinton/Carter approach” of securing the first states to vote in the primary season in favour of concentrating on Florida and Super Tuesday.

“History,” Seaborn confidently declared, “will prove us right.”

In truth, history will show the unconventional, and ultimately catastrophic, strategy to be one of the biggest miscalculations in US campaign history – and one that has brought Giuliani’s ambitions to be the 44th US president to a humiliating end.

The scale of Giuliani’s collapse from his 20-point lead over his nearest rival last summer to third place in yesterday’s Florida primary was evident at the beginning of the week.

He stopped off at various airfields round Florida for rallies that had long been organised by his staff, intended to be the high point of his campaign, the culmination of months of organisation. But instead of being mobbed by supporters, Giuliani struggled to attract more than 100 supporters at each stop.

At Fort Lauderdale, he cut short his speech, all the gusto and exuberance with which he launched his campaign in 2006 gone, and departed to kill time in a nearby hangar.

And, for the first time, his aides began talking about the campaign in the past tense. It was over, and they knew it.

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