The Plank

Tea Leaves

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Are we heading toward a Newt-Rudy alliance? Last week I noted the op-ed Giuliani and Gingrich co-wrote for the Wall Street Journal. Now I see that Giuliani has signed up former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle as a campaign adviser.

Nussle had a bunch of Republican presidential wannabes--including Gingrich, Giuliani, and McCain--come through Iowa last year to stump for him in his ill-fated gubernatorial campaign; but he's said to be particularly close to Gingrich. He was a foot soldier in Gingrich's Republican Revolution in the early '90s (his most famous moment coming when he wore a paper bag over his head on the House floor while protesting the House Bank scandal) and he later married a former Newt staffer. That led to speculation that he'd be supporting Newt in '08.

But Newt's always said that he won't run if another candidate adopts his ideas. Is that what Rudy's doing--and is Nussle joining his campaign another sign of that? Granted, we won't have a definitive answer until we hear Rudy spouting off about how his campaign is about "defining the idea context and solution context of the next generation of American politics"; but short of that, I think the WSJ op-ed and the hiring of Nussle are interesting tea leaves.

--Jason Zengerle

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