The Florida Campaign: the Race is Really on Now

“I supported the Bush tax cuts. John McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts with the Democrats twice,” he said before a crowd of mostly older voters. He later said Mr. Romney was “equivocal” in his support for the cuts.
Asked during a press briefing if he was breaking the 11th Commandment, Mr. Giuliani replied, “You mean contrast? Nah, I just pointed out where there are differences”

In Florida Rudy Guiliani is still running at the top of the pack with McCain in the polls, and this comes after a virtual vacumn of Guiliani news in the press the past two weeks. He’s really had no exposure as the initial small delegate primary wars have staged, but he’s still the man to beat in Florida for the other candidates.

In one primary Rudy can jump to the front of the pack and take the lead  in the hunt for delegates. He’s actively challenging the others on their policies and positions, and the campaign now promises to turn very interesting. Story from AP:

Girding for battle as the rest of the GOP field descended upon Florida, Rudy Giuliani challenged them for the first time by name.

“Do they agree that you should have a national catastrophic fund?” he said in a Saturday tour of the Everglades. “I support it — I was the first one to support it. Now let’s find out where the others — John McCain and Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson — let’s see what their position is on this.”

For weeks, the former New York mayor has had this state to himself, having pulled out of the early primaries to focus time and cash on Florida’s 57 delegates. While others rallied late votes in South Carolina, he attended a round table about Florida’s space industry and toured the Everglades.

But it has cost Giuliani — in raw delegate counts and lost news cycles to those men who did contend the six Republican primaries so far. Giuliani finally won his first delegate Saturday, in Nevada. But he is behind even long-shot Ron Paul in that department, after Paul picked up four out West.

Stretching to stay relevant, Giuliani went on the attack and called two big allies to his side.

Actor Jon Voight and former FBI director Louis Freeh, Giuliani’s homeland security adviser and Delaware campaign chair, introduced him at a rally in the central Florida retirement community The Villages.

This will concretize the rest of the debate in the race for the Republican nomination – unlike the other candidates Guiliani is running an open campaign. He’s laid out actual commitments and very clear specific positions on numerous issues. The other Republicans will need to move from postures and generalities to clear stances and positions on specific issues when they hit Florida to compete.

More here, here, and here.

It’s noteworthy that while there was a vacuum on Rudy news in the national press, the regional press in Florida has been running a steady stream of stories as the local reporters have been thrilled to have sole access to one of the Republican front-runners the past two weeks.