Mr. Romney has his own problems of credibility and inconsistency on abortion and gun control. For him, immigration was the ideal point of attack.
Now, that chink in Mr. Giuliani’s armor has created space for a wider variety of hits.
On Aug. 21, prospective Republican candidate Fred Thompson wrote a blog post called “A New York State of Mind” on his “I’m With Fred” Web site. In it, he scorned New York’s gun control efforts as a way “to force its ways on the rest of us,” wrote Thompson. “Now, the same activist federal judge from Brooklyn who provided Mayor Giuliani’s administration with the legal ruling it sought to sue gun makers, has done it again.”
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign, begs to differ with the rivals’ assessment.
“This is an indication of other candidates struggling to find relevancy where they don’t have any,” she said. “The bottom line is Mayor Giuliani is the front-runner in this race and the only candidate with executive experience and a track record to beat the Democrats in 2008.”
She added: “Mayor Giuliani is prepared to do battle when it comes to his record any day of the week. That is because it is a record of proven results.”
As for the Thompson blog post, the Giuliani campaign sent out a statement from communications director Katie Levinson saying, “Those who live in New York in the real world—not on TV—know that Rudy Giuliani’s record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself. No amount of political theater will change that.”
Robert Mosbacher, John McCain’s campaign chairman, declined to make any direct criticisms about Mr. Giuliani. But given Mr. McCain’s own brutal and campaign-endangering experience with the immigration issue, Mr. Mosbacher admitted “it helps McCain when attention like that is on someone else.”
Another prominent supporter of Mr. McCain put it more sharply, if somewhat hopefully.
“They start focusing on Rudy and he’s got only one place to go,” the supporter said. “And that’s down.”