Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Throwing cold water on the firewall?
Looks like the Republican National Committee will follow the DNC's lead, by punishing states that choose to push up their primaries in defiance of the Iowa-New Hampshire hegemony, and that could put a crimp into the plans of one Rudolph "I married my cousin" Giuliani.

The Giuliani campaign has reportedly set up a "firewall" in the state of Florida, according to campaign materials obtained by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and discussed on his blog, The Fix. Says said Fix:
Florida is the "firewall" in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid, according to a Powerpoint presentation made to volunteers of his campaign in the Sunshine State and obtained by The Fix.

"Florida is the firewall" proclaims the second slide of the presentation which, by in large, is aimed at outlining the goals of Giuliani's effort in the state -- which is slated to hold a primary on Jan. 29. The slide goes on to highlight two press reports: the first, from the Associated Press, notes that Giuliani has "adopted an unorthodox campaign itinerary....lavishing attention on Florida."; the second, from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, points out that "Giuliani's strategy is to win delegate rich Florida to catapult him." The next slide notes that Giuliani's average lead in national polling is seven points but his average lead in Florida is 14 points.

Tony Carbonetti, a senior adviser to the campaign, dismissed the idea that Giuliani viewed Florida as a make or break moment for his bid. "Florida's the firewall, New Jersey's the firewall, Connecticut's the firewall, New York's the firewall," said Carbonetti. He added that the document was put together by state staff, not national staff, in order to "motivate our volunteers."

Although Giuliani's campaign has made clear that the states set to vote on Feb. 5, 2008, which include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois, are likely to strongly favor their candidate, they insist that the former Mayor is also running hard in traditional early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Nonetheless, the slide show does suggest that the Giuliani campaign believes Florida will play a central role in determining the identity of the Republican nominee.

And, while most of the rest of the document is rah-rah sort of stuff, there are some glimpses into Giuliani's broader Florida strategy in the document.

In a slide entitled "Opportunities to get involved", a list of "key coalitions" is provided that includes: "former Yankees" (we assume that means ex-northerners, not the actual Pinstripers), first responders, volunteer firefighters and, The Fix's personal favorite, Italian Americans.

On a slide titled "Our Plan for Victory" there are handwritten notes that read "go after congressional districts" and "Miami -- key city". As we noted in a story for washingtonpost.com's "Fast Track Campaign" series, Florida is one of several large states that splits its delegate apportionment between the winners of each congressional district and the winner of the statewide vote. Win the entire state of Florida and you get 39 total delegates. But, 75 delegates are up for grabs in the congressional districts -- three for each of the 25 seats. ...

Well about those delegates...
The Republican National Committee plans to penalize at least four states holding early primaries, including New Hampshire and Florida, by refusing to seat at least half their delegates at the party’s national convention in 2008, a party official said Tuesday.

Much of the focus in the primary scheduling fight up to now has been on the Democratic National Committee’s moves to penalize Florida by not seating its convention delegates because of the state’s decision to move up its primary. But the Republican rules are even more stringent, and the national party said today that it would not hesitate enforcing them.

The actions by Republicans and Democrats to move against states holding early contests is a rare instance of the two parties moving in concert, in this case to regain control over a rapidly evolving primary calendar that has thrust the nominating system into deep uncertainty just months before it is to begin.

“The rules are clear,” said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Any state that holds their primary outside of the window shall be penalized delegates.”

In addition to Florida and New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina also face sanctions for moving their contests before Feb. 5. Two other early nominating states, Iowa and Nevada, will escape Republican sanctions because they hold nonbinding caucuses, not primaries.

Republican Party officials in both Florida and Michigan said yesterday they still believed it unlikely that they will face penalties — despite being told exactly the opposite by national party officials — and are crafting a plan to make their voice heard during the convention.

“I am confident that all 114 delegates from Florida will be seated,” said Jim Greer, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

Mr. Greer argued that Florida technically does not select its delegates on the date of the primary, but rather, the leaders in each of its 25 Congressional districts choose delegates starting Feb. 6, so it is not breaking the rules.

“I am confident that the Republican National Committee or any eventual nominee will not allow the voices of Florida voters not to be heard,” he said. “Florida is too important a state as it relates electing to the next president.”

Banning half a state’s delegation would be an extraordinary move. While state party officials have played down the impact, noting that presidential candidates are often selected before the convention, there is the chance that the parties could have brokered conventions in which each delegate’s vote would be prized. ...

We shall see...

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