Between Ryan Sager and Giuliani, that is. In his analysis, Sager has missed the crucial point: there was never any reason to have a Giuliani candidacy when McCain provided a viable alternative for the “moderate GOP electorate.” Because McCain was already occupying his space in the race, and because the one thing that nearly destroyed McCain’s campaign was the immigration debate last summer, Giuliani needed to win McCain supporters without appearing to be pro-amnesty (even though he has been, in fact, to the left of McCain on immigration all along). Hence Giuliani’s laughable attempts to run to the right of Romney on immigration.
But faced with deficits to make up on abortion and past support for gay rights, Giuliani pursued a strategy that systematically dismantled everything that once made his candidacy appealing to his core supporters.
Yet the very things that Sager finds so distasteful are the things that made him remotely viable: playing the tough authoritarian leader who will “get things done,” restore order and protect you from the villains of the world. Without that, he had no possible claim to the support of a majority of Republicans in a nominating contest. Of course Sager thinks Giuliani pursued the wrong message. But then he doesn’t think that Giuliani’s liberalism on social issues matters and doesn’t really see it as a deficit, he thinks the one issue where the GOP has an advantage (immigration) is one of its greatest liabilities, and he continues to operate under the strange assumption that “the Christian Right” runs the Republican Party, which ought to make you doubt the value of his analysis. Giuliani’s mistake was not that he tried to appeal to the majority of Republican primary voters, but that he ran for President at all, especially when McCain was already in the race and was likely to attract likely “moderate” Giuliani voters anyway.
Finally, if Giuliani’s “the Arabs are out to get you” ad sickened him, he must not have been paying much attention to Giuliani’s view of the rest of the world before that ad aired. His entire campaign has always been centered around such fearmongering. The only reason he was still a national political figure was that he had played on the reaction to 9/11 and the urge to lash out at anyone that followed; his would have been a more successful candidacy in 2004, when much of the country was still much more in that frame of mind. Sager was too busy painting Giuliani as some kind of “libertarian” to notice.