Is Rudy Paying Lip Service To Iowa?

The Giuliani's campaign's nomination strategy is delegate-based. It begins with a win in one of the early primary states, proceeds to take some proportionally allocated delegates from others, gets delegates from Michigan, surprises the world by placing second in South Carolina (maybe), wins all of Florida's delegates and then romps to victory on Feb. 5.

Winning Iowa isn't as important.

Giuliani did not visit Iowa at all in September. He was last in the state on Aug. 24, when he made a virtually unannounced pit stop in Moline on the way back from finance events in California. Before that, Giuliani spent three days in the state -- Aug. 6 through 8th -- right before the Ames straw poll. His campaign has run two radio ads on rotation throughout the state.

Maria Comella, an Iowa veteran who serves as Giuliani's national press secretary, told me: "At this point in time, a lot of the calendar is being driven as we approach the end of the third quarter by fundraising. The fact is that organizationally, we’re very strong in Iowa. Our political staff here at headquarters is spending quite a bit of time in Iowa. As we move in October, you’re going to see a lot of staff spend time there and the mayor will be back there as well."

Still, Mitt Romney has spent 300% more time in Iowa that Giuliani, as has Sen. Sam Brownback. Even Sen. John McCain, who skipped the Iowa caucuses in 200, has spent 5 more days in the state than Giuliani.

Giuliani's campaign will never admit that winning Iowa is not a necessary hurdle for their strategy to clear -- Iowans are nothing if not vain about making sure that candidates not only take them seriously, but put enough resources in the state in order to give that appearance. Giuliani, therefore, has to cross a threshold, but he doesn't have to exceed it. Also: it’s true that Giuliani wants to win Iowa; his campaign therefore is putting in more resources than is required to give the appearance of competition there… but fewer resources than they would if Iowa was a must-win state. If Mitt Romney falters, Giuliani's campaign wants to be able to build a large enough net to capture his supporters.