Rally Round Rudy?


One Florida poll has Giuliani clinging to his lead; another has him sinking. Meanwhile, Rick Karlgaard floats a notion:

After tonight, McCain will be coronated by the mainstream media. He is sure to hold his lead as the betting favorite. But watch Giuliani. Here’s a bet I will make with anyone: The two top-rated conservative radio talk hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, will more or less back Giuliani, as Dennis Miller does--explicitly--now. That support will be as key to Giuliani as Oprah Winfrey’s support has been to Obama.

Which is to say, the mainstream media and conventional analysis will be blind to the value of such support--and so, you'll never read about it. But in a tight primary, the Limbaugh-Hannity-Miller factor could make a difference.

In my post yesterday on Mitt Romney's prospects if he loses New Hampshire and Michigan, I envisioned talk radio getting behind him in a big way - as the only alternative to the two heretics, McCain and Huckabee - if he stays viable long enough to make the race a three-man tug-of-war in Florida and beyond. But if Romney collapses instead - if he gets beaten soundly in Michigan (where I had forgotten that Democrats can vote in the GOP primary) and then hammered by both McCain and Huckabee in South Carolina - well, my "Romney's Long March" scenario was predicated on the anti-McCain, anti-Huck voices in the GOP refusing to go gently into the good night, and if Mitt's flatlining by South Carolina it isn't all that implausible to imagine Rush and Hannity trying desperately to perform CPR on Rudy's candidacy. It would be the crowning irony of irony-rich primary season - the "Reagan conservatives" making their last stand around a man whose record is arguably more liberal than anyone else's in the race.

Photo by Flickr user Joe Crimmings used under a Creative Commons license.