Although Mr. Giuliani said it was “absolutely expected” that he would lose the lead he held for months in national polls as he sat out the first contests, it is unlikely he expected to lose race after race in single digits — he won 3.4 percent in South Carolina, beaten by long-shot candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
The press have ignored him, exposing flaws in the Giuliani team’s strategy, said one pollster. “I don’t think they envisioned him not being mentioned, and I don’t think they envisioned him not being the front-runner in national polls,” pollster Scott Rasmussen said.
But, skipping the first six contests has left him flush with cash, Mr. Giuliani said. “I would say, with the exception of Romney, we have the most money,” he said.
Mr. Giuliani has spent freely to win Florida, nearly $600,000 on television ads between Dec. 8 and Jan. 6, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.
While the crowded field has stalled momentum for any one candidate, Mr. Giuliani has built a head of steam — backwards. His lead in Florida — put at 21 points in November by a Mason-Dixon poll — has evaporated, bringing into doubt the sagacity of his strategy.
His campaign manager, Mike DuHaime, in November led reporters through a numbers game he said foretold the nomination for Mr. Giuliani. Ahead in the polls in 16 of the 21 Feb. 5 states, a win in Florida would vault him to victory as he went on to take such states as New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois, Mr. DuHaime said.
But the 30-point lead Mr. Giuliani enjoyed last month in New Jersey has been erased: A Rasmussen poll on Jan. 15 puts Mr. McCain ahead by two points. A Rasmussen poll released Friday also puts the Arizona senator up in California by 13 points over the former mayor, now running in third.
Not to worry, Mr. Giuliani said. “All that changes with a strong showing in Florida,” he said, adding with a laugh: “Or, if you want to be a pessimist, well, then, it doesn’t.”
But waiting for the state’s primary to kick off his campaign has not been easy, he said.
“I said a long time ago, you’d like to win all the primaries. You’d like to win Iowa, New Hampshire, and [so on], and I said, but even if we don’t, if we win Florida, we’ll get the nomination, except everybody’ll have an ulcer. It will be a nomination won with a campaign staff suffering from ulcers, because it is nerve-racking,” he said, laughing.
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