Presidential and Super Bowl shuffle

Behind The News
January 30, 2008 1:14:19 PM PST
And then there were two. The races for President in each major political party now boil down to two major candidates.

Those everybody-in-the-water debates, where there were so many candidates it was dizzying, are things of the past. The debates this week -- the last ones before Super Tuesday, with more than 20 states holding primaries -- now take on huge significance, pitting John McCain versus Mitt Romney (yes, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are still officially in, but they are distant), and Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama.

We might very well see the two finalists in the November election emerge Tuesday night -- and then what? Nine more months of campaigning? Help me. Help us all.

All these states wanted to move up their primaries so they'd matter (remember when New York and California held their primaries in June?), but now we're so early we're faced with all this down time -- during which candidates won't have their official nominations but there's no one running against them.

It will be interesting to see if the excitement of this past month can extend, or whether it will wither.

Tonight we'll look at how we got here, which will include an examination of the stunning and hard downward slide of Rudy Giuliani. He was, only a couple of months ago, leading impressively in the national polls. But he was done in by a flood of events and decisions: A questionable campaign strategy which ignored the earliest primaries, revelations about his personal life that included police security for his then-girlfriend while he was still Mayor and still married, a distrust by fellow Republicans of his conservative bonafides, and his singularly focused campaign theme of terrorism and how he did or didn't react as Mayor of New York post 9-11.

It was a huge gamble for the career public servant who suddenly found himself making millions as a terrorism and security expert. Did he blow up both his political career and his business in his bid for the White House? And will his endorsement of John McCain be of any help to the Arizona Senator? We're exploring those questions, tonight at 11.

And one more item about Giuliani -- he proves once again the so-called "Curse of New York City Hall." No Mayor has gone on to higher office since 1868, when John Hoffman became Governor.

Something to chew on - especially with Michael Bloomberg still in the wings, waiting.

We'll also look at the withdrawal of John Edwards from the Democratic race for President. He has yet to offer his support to anyone -- what's he waiting for; perhaps some leverage?

We'll also have the latest on the economy -- an anemic 0.6% fourth quarter growth in the Gross Domestic Product and an unprecedented second interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve Board -- down another half a point in the key rate.

We're also following the rape of a babysitter in the elevator of an apartment building in East Harlem this morning. Is this part of a pattern?

And Scott Clark is in Arizona, covering the Super Bowl. Liz Cho is on her way there; she will be anchoring our coverage beginning tomorrow.

And Lee Goldberg has the colder AccuWeather forecast.

I hope you can join us, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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