Rudy Giuliani is determined not to repeat the errors of John McCain.
Mr. McCain, of course, tied himself to George Bush’s political mast—on immigration and Iraq—and is about to go down with the ship.
The former mayor is plotting a different course. His task, though, is a tricky one: he has to differentiate himself from a failing president without alienating a conservative base already uneasy about his liberal stand on abortion.
To some degree, Mr. Giuliani has succeeded in putting some distance between himself and the administration, in the eyes of primary voters, by focusing on a few specific policy issues.
On immigration reform, he repeatedly criticized the massive Bush proposal as a hopeless Washington mish-mash that lacked an overarching philosophy and shortchanged national security.
When it comes to public spending, Mr. Giuliani has bluntly acknowledged that Republicans, including Mr. Bush, have lost their reputation for fiscal conservatism, and he has vowed to reduce the federal workforce and force department heads to cut programs. He has touted his own experience in New York to prove his conservative cost-cutting credentials and demonstrate that he’ll administer the same tough treatment to the federal government.
On Iraq—an area central in every way to the Bush administration’s record—Mr. Giuliani has been more circumspect, but his efforts to distinguish himself from the White House have nevertheless been unmistakable.
He has stressed, like the White House, that Iraq must be viewed in the context of America’s larger interests in the area, and he has declined to criticize the surge in troop levels. But he implicitly criticized the lack of progress in Iraq in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, proposing the application of the same sort of reforms he used to reduce welfare dependency in New York.
Mr. Giuliani’s general approach to foreign policy has also illustrated an unmissable, if not explicit, creep away from the president’s doctrine.
By selecting Charles Hill, former executive aide to George Shultz and a diplomat and negotiator extraordinaire, as his top foreign policy adviser, the former mayor seems to be suggesting a distinctly different approach than Mr. Bush’s “my way or the highway” unilateralism.