Missed Opportunities

John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani will always be linked in history as the candidates who dropped out the presidential derby of 2008 on the same day.

They will also be linked by their missed opportunities to win their parties’ nominations.

Edwards bizarrely decided to run to the left of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let’s face it. There is not much room to the left of the two Democratic front-runners. But Edwards decided to prove to all the Democrats that he was as wild-eyed and socialistic as Dennis Kucinich, except he had a Southern drawl.

It didn’t work. Edwards got no credit for being a liberal from the liberal wing of the party, and his aggressive anti-capitalist message turned off any moderate who was looking for somebody else to vote for.

In other words, he got all the baggage of being a white Southerner and decided to forfeit all of the advantages.

Giuliani was a victim of a bad campaign strategy combined with a bad communications strategy.

We all know now that waiting out the first four primaries is really not a good idea, especially if you are going to get beat by Ron Paul in a couple of them.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing was the lack of a coherent message that went beyond Sept. 11. Rudy never expanded his argument beyond that one day.

I knew the campaign was in trouble once it announced its Twelve Commitments. It sounded to me like a cross between an Irish Rock Bank and a pledge made at an AA meeting, not a strategy for winning the election.

And then Giuliani made a big deal about his foreign policy and national security experiences, which were the weakest part of his résumé.

Rudy should have been talking consistently about how he cleaned up New York and his plan to clean up Washington. Instead he got caught talking to smaller and smaller crowds about his dozen commitments that nobody cared about.

True, the mayor didn’t get an even break from the media. But it is not clear if he really tried to make any positive news in the months that followed his brilliant attack of MoveOn.org. If he did, I didn’t hear about it.

He just drifted along, getting pelted by old stories of former associates and the romance of his third wife.

I really liked Rudy, and I thought he would have been the best candidate in either party to bring real change to Washington. Too bad his campaign couldn’t get off the ground.

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