COUNTDOWN

Romney's Losses Are Giuliani's Gains

By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
Sunday, March 25, 2007

There's only one thing better for a presidential campaign than securing the support of a key activist. And that's stealing that activist away from one of your main rivals for the nomination.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) has scored a double whammy on that front, winning the backing of two past supporters of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R): Michigan state Rep. Jack Brandenburg and former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas Richard Blankenship.

Brandenburg was a member of Romney's Michigan leadership team; Blankenship was part of Romney's Florida fundraising effort.

"The more I learn about Mayor Giuliani's record of conservative governance in New York City . . . I'm confident he is the best candidate to get results moving our country forward," Brandenburg said.

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Giuliani, took the high road when asked about the defectors. "We are honored to have these two conservative Republican leaders join Team Rudy," she said.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Romney, acknowledged the losses but added: "We accept it when an individual decides to lend their support to other campaigns, but we're most appreciative of and most focused on developing and growing the enthusiasm of the supporters who are with us."

It's important to keep these sort of switches in context. Romney -- as well as Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- have huge groups of activists and elected officials committed to them, so the peeling off of one or two has little long-term impact.

But with 10 long months to go before the first real votes are cast in the race for the White House, it sure is entertaining.

PLAYERS

Looking for a consulting firm to watch out for in 2008? Envision Communications fits the bill. The firm, formed earlier this year, boasts an impressive roster of longtime Democratic House strategists, including Peter Cari, a past political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Jen Burton, who has been with Murphy Putnam Shorr; and Maura Dougherty, a Cari colleague at Fenn Communications Group. Last week, it added Greg Speed, a past communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Clients include four freshman House Democrats: Heath Shuler (N.C.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Phil Hare (Ill.) and Charlie Wilson (Ohio).

One day: Former Iowa governor and short-lived 2008 Democratic candidate Tom Vilsack is expected to throw his support behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid. Expect a nice Iowa bump off the Vilsack endorsement for the New York Democrat, whom most polls show second to former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

28 days: It's Election Day! In France, that is. A three-way race is shaping up: Nicolas Sarkozy of the center-right UMP, Socialist Segolene Royal and centrist UDF party late-comer Francois Bayrou. Royal's campaign was rocked recently when Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande, who also happens to be Royal's partner and the father of her four children, said he was worried that she would finish out of the top two and miss the runoff. C'est la vie!


© 2007 The Washington Post Company