Giuliani's Bid to Woo New Hampshire Independents Centers on Health Care

By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
PLAYERS
Sunday, October 28, 2007

Independents will make all the difference in New Hampshire.

That bloc, which encompasses more than 40 percent of registered voters in the state, exercises huge influence in the presidential primary process, as unaffiliated individuals can cast a ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

While Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has drawn perhaps the most attention for his attempts to woo New Hampshire's independents, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) is set to begin a direct-mail and radio campaign of his own aimed at persuading unaligned voters to back his candidacy.

Both the radio ad, which will begin airing tomorrow, and the direct-mail piece, which will land in Granite State mailboxes over the next few days, are centered on Giuliani's health-care plan.

In the radio spot, Giuliani mentions his battle with prostate cancer and notes that his chances of surviving the disease in America were 82 percent, while in England his chances would have been 44 percent.

"You and I should be making the decisions about what kind of health care we get with our doctors, not with a government bureaucrat," Giuliani says in the ad.

The mail piece echoes that message. "Rudy Giuliani's health care plan offers freedom to choose a health plan that fits your needs and the freedom to keep it if you change jobs," the flier reads, above a graphic that shows Giuliani's plan does not amount to "government mandated health insurance" or require a tax increase.

Even Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella is on message. "Mayor Giuliani has the right idea when it comes to health care, and it has nothing to do with socialized medicine or government mandates," she said when asked about the health-care push.

Giuliani's appeal to personal freedom on health care, an issue regularly ranked among the most pressing by independent voters in New Hampshire, is aimed squarely at that large segment of voters in New Hampshire who believe firmly in the mantra of less government and lower taxes. (It is the "Live Free or Die" State, after all.)

For Giuliani to win New Hampshire, he must find a foothold among those voters -- many of whom will be shopping for a candidate, Republican or Democrat, who speaks to their concerns in January's primary. His profile as a fiscal conservative/social moderate should get him in the door; his campaign is hoping proposals such as his health-care plan can close the deal.

Coaxing Tom Udall

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who has quashed talk that he would run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), is coming under increasing pressure to reconsider that decision as Democrats have yet to come up with a candidate that can bring the party together.

A Web site ( http://www.draftudall.com) has cropped up aimed at persuading Udall to rethink his candidacy, and political Washington and the liberal blogosphere are stoking the effort. Udall has held northern New Mexico's 3rd District seat since 1998 and has stockpiled an impressive cash reserve, $802,000, that could be directly transferred to a Senate bid. He carries a potent last name in Democratic politics: His father, Stewart L. Udall, represented Arizona in Congress and was secretary of the interior; uncle Morris K. Udall was another Arizona congressman and a presidential candidate; and cousin Mark Udall is a congressman from Colorado who also happens to be running for Senate in 2008.

Asked about the possibility, Udall spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said that "nothing has changed, and Tom Udall is not reconsidering."

Words matter in politics. The fact that Udall is not currently reconsidering the race does not mean he won't do just that in the coming weeks. Democratic insiders acknowledge as much in not-for-attribution conversations with The Sunday Fix.

Electoral politics is riddled with examples of candidates who ruled themselves out only to rule themselves in weeks or even months later. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), then in the House, ruled out a run against Sen. Mike DeWine (R) in August 2005 only to reconsider and jump into the race a month or so later. Brown went on to defeat DeWine -- an example, perhaps, that Democrats can use to tempt Udall.

At the moment, only Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez is seeking the Democratic nod. Democrats continue to woo Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, although reports conflict about whether she is genuinely interested. Denish had been pointing at the 2010 governor's race for quite some time and would probably have the primary field to herself with Chavez in the Senate race.

If Udall does run, it will ensure a complete turnover in the state's House delegation next year. Reps. Heather A. Wilson and Steve Pearce are preparing to do battle for the Republican nomination.

PLAYERS

Susan McCue couldn't stay out of the partisan fray for long. One of the brightest strategic minds in the Democratic Party, McCue stepped down as president of the One Campaign last week to open her own political consulting business. Her immediate task will be to help Democrats grow their Senate majority in 2008, but McCue is also expected to spend time helping to shepherd Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to reelection in 2010. (She will also remain as a consultant to One).

McCue served as Reid's chief of staff before leaving for One. She joins an impressive group of strategists surrounding Reid, including Penny Lee, former executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, media consultant Jim Margolis and pollster Mark Mellman.

ONE DAY: MTV and MySpace hold an interactive town hall forum with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As an added bonus, The Fix -- along with screenwriter Gideon Yago and MTV veejay Sway -- will be moderating the event.

31 DAYS: Republican presidential candidates gather in Florida for the CNN-YouTube debate. After balking at the premise -- questions submitted by regular folks via video -- all of the major GOP candidates have agreed to participate. The last two holdouts, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and ex-Tennessee senator Fred D. Thompson, signaled late last week that they will attend.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company