WASHINGTON -- Rudolph Giuliani has so far signed up only about a quarter of the major Republican donors he set out last November to enlist as fundraisers for his presidential campaign, records show.The news could be worse: he corralled 24 of the 89 he acknowledged he needed, but lost only 21 to either Mitt Romney or John McCain, meaning 44 others, about half, have refused to publicly commit to any candidate.
Giuliani's failure to recruit most of those on this early "wish list" is revealed by his early presidential campaign-strategy documents leaked in January.
That anemic track record serves as another indication that key conservatives aren't yet sold on Giuliani, experts say, a problem that could become exacerbated by his recent decision to acknowledge his support for abortion rights.
This is not small potatoes money: these are donors who can reliably raise some $200,000 minimum each for any particular candidate they choose to lavish their attention on. It's still early in the campaign, but the campaign itself has been an anomaly in how early it has turned into a full-bore run for the tape.
Sorry. I've been promising myself I wouldn't report the race like it was a horse race and run poll after poll past you. I had a brain cramp here.
The trouble Giuliani had all along, and really should have acknowledged before setting such a far-fetched goal of obtaining the "89", is that apart from his public persona during the aftermath of 9/11, no one really knew him or understood who he was and what he stood for.
People who are going to pony up in excess of $10 million dollars in toto are going to want assurances that their voices will be heard in the White House, so at the very least, you have to pay a little lip service to tax cut, pro-life, and "American values" positions, none of which Rudy has a particularly strong record on.
That these heavyweight donors stood off to the side while waiting for him to flesh out his stances is not surprising. I should expect that by June 30th, many more will have committed. I'm betting that another half, say 22, will commit but will be split pretty evenly amongst the three top candidates.
There's something at stake for the donors, as well: back the wrong horse, and you have to work twice as hard to curry favor with the winner, and get your voice heard.
There's a cottage industry in "access", sadly it's determined not by need but by resources.
The person who stands to lose the most the quicker more donors jump in is, of course, the candidate who isn't even in the game yet, but I believe that ultimately, the field of candidates from both parties that we see will not generate both party Presidential candidates (save possibly for Hillary, should she survive the primary season, something that's more likely as California, New York, and New Jersey accelerate their primaries).
Who this really hurts is someone like Fred Thompson, who will have to either somehow make enemies all over the party to grab some of these donors, or will have to make do with "populist" fund raising tactics, like Barack Obama or Howard Dean did, but that will also mean staking out some pretty shaky positions slightly away from the inevitable party platform of pro-life, pro-war, pro-Bush.