I recently posted on how the national security issue has fundamentally changed the nature of the presidential primary process on the GOP side, but I am not surprised that most MSMers have missed it, as well as the deep distrust for Senator John McCain within the ranks of Republican Party activists and primary voters. Senator McCain’s poll numbers reflect a long career in politics and genuine respect for his military service, but those qualities do not translate into primary victories if there is an alternative with credibility on national security to match Senator McCain’s and a better record on other issues of importance to Republican partisans. Both Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney fit that bill. Michael Barone has more on the “Rudy conservatives.”
From now until the end of the first quarter of ’07, there will be no meaningful test of which of the big three have the momentum. Then the fund-raising numbers for the first quarter will provide the first reliable metrics. Jim Gilmore and Frank Keating were in New Hampshire this week, as was Romney (who was getting another in a series of campaign immunizations on the social issues) but the early campaign is being waged on the phone with calls to the money teams and individual donors.