In an event of questionable import, Tommy Thompson endorsed Rudy Giuliani today in Charleston, SC. Thompson began by acknowledging that, although he's a former presidential candidate himself, "I'm sure most of you didn't even know it," which rather undermined the oomph of his announcement. Thompson hailed Rudy as a "reformer" who, like Thompson, battled to trim welfare rolls in the 1990s. But he didn't mention his argument, during an August Republican debate, that "any candidate that's pro-choice is going to have a difficulty with the party faithful."
Meanwhile, Rudy once again made clear that he trying to run an electability campaign--one framed not against his GOP rivals but against Hillary Clinton. As he did repeatedly yesterday, Giuliani mocked Clinton's recent spending proposals, saying that "the country can't afford Hillary Clinton." And Thompson, presumably working off the campaign's talking points, noted that some people say Giuliani is "not conservative enough"; but, he added, "Who do I want in the White House to appoint federal judges? Do I want Hillary Clinton or do I want Rudy Giuliani?"
This strikes me as a wise approach for Rudy, who is at his best when he's mocking the excesses of the left. I must say, actually, that I've found Rudy quite impressive in person. He's energetic, funny, and deft on his feet. Nor can you underestimate his 9/11-derived celebrity, which seems to mesmerize the people who come to see him. Indeed, in one of the oddest moments of the week, I heard a local radio host discussing on the air an interview he'd done with Rudy the day before. When the clip was posted on the station's website, the host explained, he noticed how long it had run: nine minutes and eleven seconds. Almost as if Rudy had planned it that way....
Update: I didn't mention the Kerick questions Rudy got because I thought reporters were chewing over old news; hadn't seen the latest.