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Posted by on Jan 11, 2008 in Politics | 2 comments

Trouble In Rudyland? Giuliani Staffers Go Without Paychecks

No matter how it’s explained or spun, it’s never the sign of a truly healthy campaign that has “Big Mo” when you hear stories about staffers going without pay. And that is exactly what’s now emerging about former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination:

CNN has learned that top staff members of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign were asked to work without pay for the month of January, and perhaps longer, so that campaign resources could be focused on the Florida Republican presidential primary.

Two sources in the campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted the campaign was not in dire financial straits. A third campaign source, however, said “things are starting to get tight” and that “it was more telling than asking” the senior staff to forgo paychecks beginning the first of the year.

Another source disagreed, saying it was a “voluntary” move by senior staff members “so all of our resources could be targeted toward Florida…Our campaign is not living hand to mouth right now…”

That could indeed be the case — that it’s strictly a financial strategical move. Nonetheless, the AP has a report on this, too:

About a dozen senior campaign staffers for Rudy Giuliani are forgoing their January paychecks, a sign of possible money trouble for the Republican presidential candidate and last year’s national front-runner.

“We have enough money, but we could always use more money,” contended Mike DuHaime, Giuliani’s campaign manager and one of those who now is working for free. “We want to make sure we have enough to win.”

At the end of December, the campaign had $11.5 million cash on hand, $7 million of which could be used for the primary, DuHaime said Friday. He disputed the notion of a cash-strapped operation and said Giuliani continues to bring in cash; several fundraisers are scheduled this week in Florida.

The former New York mayor has yet to win a contest and is counting on a victory in delegate-rich Florida on Jan. 29 to prove his candidacy is viable heading into the multistate contests slated for Feb. 5, where he believes he can prevail in states such as California and Illinois.

It’s an unorthodox and costly strategy because Florida and states that follow have some of the most expensive media markets in the country. And with so many states voting in such a short time period, candidates can do little else but rely on paid media to get their message out.

Fox News also confirms it:

FOX NEWS has learned Rudy Giuliani’s cash strapped presidential campaign has asked paid staffers to work without pay retro active to January first to save money. Senior staffers say it is VOLUNTARY and nobody will be forced to work free. The effort is to keep available the most resources for the Florida primary January 29th. Sources say the campaign has also contacted vendors to see what ways it can save money by cutting costs.

FOX NEWS has repeatedly led the reporting on Giuliani’s cash woes. Sources say they are NOT out of money, they have some cash on hand but need much more.

What to make of the Giuliani campaign?

It most certainly is high risk. But its official line is that the campaign is now exactly where the Mayor wants it. The make-or-break contest for Giuliani is Florida.

Giuliani’s lead in national polls has all but disappeared; he finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses, and, despite the expenditure of a considerable amount of time and money, he placed fourth in the New Hampshire primary. He is not seriously contesting Tuesday’s primary in Michigan or the Jan. 19 primary in South Carolina and caucuses in Nevada.

But Giuliani has devoted heavy resources and time in Florida, as well as several of the more than 20 states that will vote on Feb. 5, when few candidates will have enough money to wage more than token media campaigns. The Giuliani campaign is banking on his high name recognition.

When the campaign is over it’ll be noted that the two candidates who played the riskiest cards were Giuliani and actor and former Senator Fred Thompson.

Giuliani stuck to his unorthodox strategy and, unlike former Governor Mitt Romney, stuck to many of his positions and didn’t try to change them for the campaign. Instead, Giuliani tried to explain them or make them acceptable to the party’s base (often by adding qualifiers).

His big risk was sitting it out in the early primaries when his competitors got lots of ink and air time — and he was basically on the sidelines or as someone who’d pop in during a debate. Voter opinions and loyalties are often formulated during the campaign’s early days.

Thompson also waited, essentially ignoring the call of history — or, at least, of some of his party’s conservatives who thought he could be another Ronald Reagan (with admittedly less hair). He waited so long that voters looked at other options. His debate performance last night must have been bittersweet to some because if Thompson had come out of the gate the same way he might now be in his party’s top three.

Giuliani’s risks are huge now. McCain is in a “surge” which means all the stories and interviews he gives gets his name and face out there. Giuliani is largely out of the news now because the press can only run so many stories of speeches where he talks about 911.

Was Giuliani shrewd or misled? The answer will come about a month from now.

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