Rudy Giuliani’s supporters in New Hampshire are putting the most positive possible face on the campaign’s decision to cut its advertising budget in the primary state.
"I find that unfortunate," Ken Smith, a Portsmouth city councilor who the campaign has rolled out as a noteworthy New Hampshire supporter, said about the slashing of advertising funds. "But you know at the same time, New Hampshire is getting close to the end of the race and you know you have your base of supporters already in place and you start moving money into new places such as South Carolina and Florida."
After some bed rest in New York today, Giuliani heads back to New Hampshire this weekend faced with some unhealthy poll numbers. A USA TODAY/Gallup poll released on Dec. 21 shows his support at 11 percent, compared to 34 percent for Mitt Romney and 27 percent for John McCain. (Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul each had nine percent.)
The campaign has talked of a national strategy for winning the Republican nomination, in which victories in delegate-rich February 5 states will make poor showings in the early primary states irrelevant.
Giuliani’s New Hampshire supporters are understandably skeptical.
"It’s crucial to win New Hampshire or at least come in the top three, because that really defines things," added Smith. "If you are not in the top three in New Hampshire, you mind as well just go the way Tom [Tancredo] just did and pack it in. Because it’s just not getting to get there. Coming in number one in New Hampshire means a huge boost as well a huge boost in money. And that is the surge everyone is looking for." That said, Smith and other supporters think Giuliani can still do well there, and they characterize his recent trimming of advertising funds as a smart tactical decision with the Holiday season coming.
"It’s not a matter of cutting, it’s a matter of deciding when we are going to put our money into advertising," said Wayne Semprini, the New Hampshire chairman of the Giuliani campaign. "It’s totally tactical."
As evidence of the good health of the campaign in New Hampshire, Semprini pointed to the recent opening of a Nashua office.
"Our staff in New Hampshire is growing," he said. "People are taking these shots just because we move a few resources around and change an advertising schedule."
Yesterday, Semprini said he participated in conference calls urging key supporters to help get out the vote on Jan 8.
Jim Borsari, who runs Northern Bus Sales in Hudson, and who the campaign identifies a "New Hampshire business leader for Rudy," said that he also participated in a Giuliani campaign conference call yesterday in which he said national campaign officials assured supporters that "they have increased their buys" or at least "they have kept it at where they planned it to be and they stayed there."
According to the Nashua Telegraph, the $102,745 the Giuliani campaign spent on advertisements on WHDH on December 5 was cut to $40,700 on December 11. Over the same period, spending on WFXT dropped to $20,000 a week from $67,000 a week. On WBZ and WSBK, the Giuliani campaign sliced its spending in half and had since canceled the $20,300 worth of airtime bought on WLVI on December 5.
Some of Giuliani’s New Hampshire supporters argued that they were unbothered by the campaign’s reallocation of resources elsewhere.
"He has a strategy that is nationwide," said Jim Buttolph, a Giuliani business leader who works at Kingsley Medical Supply in Rumney. "We are all team players on that."
"He has to do what is fiscally prudent to get elected," said Susan Rubens, who runs the Chocolate Shop in Hanover and who is also cited by the campaign as one of its business leaders. "We in New Hampshire like to say that you have to do very, very well in New Hampshire, but President Clinton didn’t win New Hampshire, President Bush didn’t win New Hampshire."
Still, Rubens said, “You have to come out looking like a stallion ready for the race.”