The Elephant In The Room

They’re not only looking for another Ronald Reagan, but they are looking for the myth of Ronald Reagan.

It’s a skyscraper-sized order, for Republicans who want to keep the White House in 2008. Try finding someone who will be the darling of at-times clashing blocs that comprise today’s Grand Old Party: the moralists, the moderates, the fiscal conservatives, the foreign policy hawks, the deficit hawks, the supply siders, the cultural populists, the progressives – did we get them all? – and what we have here, folks, is a big whopping challenge.

Such was the rapid-fire message delivered by well-known national Republican pollster and strategist Tony Fabrizio, in Denver earlier this month to address a national convention of gay Republicans. There’s Mitt Romney – let’s see, the Mitt Romney of today, or the Mitt Romney of two months ago? Or, as Fabrizio introduced him: Flip, Meet Flop.

There’s Rudy “The Human Pretzel” Giuliani, who at the time Fabrizio made his presentation was just coming off a debate where he stumbled around on the issue of Roe v. Wade. “Why fall into that trap?” asked Fabrizio, the former pollster for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign.

(During their convention, the Log Cabin Republicans overwhelmingly embraced Giuliani, while hissing, literally, Romney.)

Mike Huckabee could be eminently acceptable to all segments of today’s Republican Party, except for a few not-so-insignificant problems: low name ID, little money and poor organization.

With no anointed frontrunner – and with the primary on an accelerated schedule, here’s another not-so-forgettable reality: Cold Hard Cash. Just to play in the early states, Fabrizio notes, candidates need to shell out $13 million a week, just for television. The cost just in Florida: $1 million a week. And that’s for early voting, before one vote has even been cast.

“You want to talk about speculative money!” Fabrizio says. “These guys will spend hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“It is very possible we wake up on Feb. 6 and find out that Giuliani is the [candidate],” Fabrizio said. (With California and other states moving up their primary date, Feb. 5 is considered by many to have become the defacto presidential primary.)

Giuliani-loving states like New York, New Jersey, California and Florida have more delegates, Fabrizio noted, than Iowa, North Carolina and South Carolina. But, he noted, the majority of the Republican delegates tend to be the moralists, who are not likely to stomach a Giuliani candidacy (Just last week James Dobson, for example, said forget it –

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Cara Degette

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