Giuliani's theory that he could virtually ignore the early primaries and focus on Florida -- where so many former New Yorkers reside -- was always suspect and defied logic. Before the first ballots were cast anywhere, and Giuliani was leading in the national polls, it was hard to argue. But once the primaries and caucuses started, and Giuliani was in single digits -- sometimes barely even that -- it became clear that he left the important factor of momentum out of his strategic equation.
His staff is already volunteer - the money stopped flowing weeks ago -- and it will be hard to mount a full throttle fundraising offensive if your candidate's best showing is third place in Florida. And even that is in jeopardy.
If Mike Huckabee can muster enough evangelical votes in one of the country's most diverse states, then he might wrangle a third-place finish tonight. If not, and those votes go as a conservative block to Mitt Romney, then we have a solid two-man race among the Republicans -- Romney versus John McCain.
Here's the spending breakdown in Florida for TV ads:
Mitt Romney $5.3 Million
Rudy Giuliani $3 Million
John McCain $2 Million
Mike Huckabee $0
The $3 million from Giuliani is the same amount he spent in New Hampshire, where he claims he didn't campaign. Go figure.
Will Giuliani wait until Super Tuesday in a week before he withdraws? We'll see. More than 20 states on Feb. 5 will vote in primaries, and we might well have a winner in each party. Or maybe not. If we do, it's a long long time between now and the November election. The country was energized once the primaries started; will we become bored over the next 9 months -- 9 long months of a lame-duck President, whose State of the Union offered no ambitious proposals, and two candidates just waiting for the vote? We'll see.
Our political reporter Dave Evans is in Florida for us tonight, at 11.
Speaking of the President, the U.S. Comptroller today was on Capitol Hill and he pointed out that as the government prepares to cut taxpayers rebate checks of up to $1,600, it might want to also slip in the bill for the national debt. It's staggering. For every man, woman and child, the debt comes out to $150,000.
I'll give you some time to stop coughing.
Good luck with that rebate check. The House today, by the way, passed the $146 billion economic stimulus package.
Yesterday I posed a "what if" question of the day. What would you do if you were President for a Year, like President Bush as he prepared to deliver his State of the Union.
We got, as usual, a healthy response. Some were well-thought-out and I thank you for them. Some are reprinted (is reprinted the right word when it's on the Web?) down below.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night sports. Tonight, once again, he's reporting from Arizona on the Giants and the upcoming Super Bowl. Today is "media day" which means a visual and verbal assault from both sides.
I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.
P.S. Here are some of the responses from readers/viewers:
"Hi Bill, I am a senior citizen female and I did not vote for President Bush. Just never liked him I guess. Even though He is the President of the greatest nation and desires some respect. Maybe he made a few mistakes, maybe he didn't, who's to tell? Maybe in the years ahead we will know. Let's wait and see who the next President will be and how he or she will do before we judge President Bush. It must be pretty hard for him to get up the courage and try not to sound to disappointed with the condition of our nation at this time. I am sure we will see better times in the future and hope that it will all come about soon for my children and grandchildren and all the young and middle aged people in America. Just love your column Bill . Keep up the good work. By the way I am 73 years young and my name is Carol Hutnick from Long Island, New York."
"Hi. I think I would do whatever it would take to get the economy back to normal and I would set a timetable to start getting our troops out of Iraq, I think it has been long enough and it is time to bring our troops home and let the people of Iraq start taking care of themselves. Thanks.
Sincerely, Dana Trentacost, Wayne, NJ."
"For the past seven years, I managed to spend the $7 trillion in surplus from former administration. Went to war and spending hundreds of $billions on the Pentagon, contractors and subcontractors. Having to cut social security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other programs for which the American people are suffering due to no fault of their own. I want to atone the above and cut military spending. Put more monies into healthcare and education. When we empower our youth with quality education and knowledge and keep and maintain healthy bodies and minimize amount of diseases, injuries leading to disability and loss of work and keep a sound record in volumes, then we have hope for the future that all other problems will be resolved. Health and quality education are our best investment for the future.
Phyllis Sale "