Exclusive: McCain Needs to Tap Romney and Giuliani – Will Announcing Cabinet Positions Now Help?
by N. M. GUARIGLIA, RYAN MAURO
October 13, 2008
Sen. McCain is on course to lose this election. In our last article, detailing how McCain could turn the campaign around, we finished by saying “The McCain campaign must again change the dynamics of the race as described, or it must begin preparing its face-saving argument that a close second was honorable in such a tough political environment.” Unfortunately, McCain’s current path is leading to a third course of action: preparing an explanation for being defeated in a landslide. With less than 30 days to November 4th, McCain is in desperate need of a game-changer, a gamble only rivaled by the pick of Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate.
To win, Sen. McCain must take a risk. He should hold a press conference as soon as possible and announce the team that will turn the economy around, go after those whose bad conduct caused the financial crisis, and oversee an unprecedented review of every agency of every department, cutting every penny of waste, unnecessary bureaucracy and putting every incompetent federal employee in the unemployment lines. Sen. McCain should announce that Rudy Giuliani will be nominated as Attorney General and Mitt Romney as Secretary of the Treasury – should he be elected, of course.
This would fundamentally change the race. It wouldn’t be doubling-down; it’d be all-in.
This would combine the separate talents of McCain, Romney and Giuliani into one attention-grabbing conglomerate, a competent team to tackle today’s issues, unrivaled by virtually any other coalition of public servants. As former presidential candidates, Romney and Giuliani are great campaigners, and can speak about the economy in fluent and articulate ways.
Sen. Obama’s options to respond to such an event are limited and inadequate. He could announce his own cabinet, but few names come to mind that can compete with the headline-dominating team on McCain’s side. While Sen. Obama could surely choose people who are experienced, such as Warren Buffet, it is doubtful any could match the campaigning skills of Romney and Giuliani.
McCain should make the announcement and add a few caveats. He should say Romney and Giuliani were his two likely nominees for these cabinet posts anyway (and at least in Giuliani’s case, that’s probably accurate). He should acknowledge that he’s naming these two specific cabinet positions due to their unique relevance to Wall Street corruption and the financial fiasco. He should campaign with them, and allow them to campaign on their own, but forbid them to talk about anything other than the tasks relevant to the job they would have.
Should McCain be accused of politicizing the crisis, he could simply respond by pointing out that Giuliani and Romney were fulltime surrogates for him, but now the topic of their discussions will be constricted to issues pertinent for the task at hand. In this regard, he’d be depoliticizing them.
Critics might call it McCain’s latest “stunt.” It might be seen as overload, with two big names effectively joining the ticket as McCain’s de facto second and third vice presidential running mates. Yes, it could backfire.
But what’s to lose? The election? It looks like he’s going to lose that anyway. The positives not only far outweigh the negatives politically, but the very idea that Romney and Giuliani might just help the country could very possibly seep into the public’s consciousness. Their careers have demonstrated that actual results are not just possible, but probable. While other names could be considered, Romney and Giuliani are uniquely ideal for these two cabinet positions.
The negatives are there, of course. Rudy Giuliani was a highly controversial executive during his time in New York City. Mitt Romney, too, might provide some opportunities for Obama, who could have ads showing footage of Romney and McCain berate each other about the economy during the primaries. They might also label Romney a money-man, a CEO-type – which of course he is. While “CEO” might be a dirty thing to be these days, McCain needs to trust that the American people are not so stupid as to conflate a former successful CEO who generated wealth, prosperity, and jobs for people, and CEOs who through bribery, corruption, and greed effectively destroyed the American financial sector.
Any offensive by Sen. Obama or the media against McCain’s selections would take the spotlight off McCain himself, and getting into a brawl with the Romney-Giuliani bulldog would not end nicely. The race would become Obama vs. the McCain/Romney/Giuliani campaign, and each candidate would make inroads into the constituencies that will decide the election, reducing Sen. Obama’s advantages.
Their reputations precede them. Gov. Romney righted many wrongs in Massachusetts and saved the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Deservedly or not, he’s seen as a master in economics. With the recent bailouts, Sec. Hank Paulson just ensured that the Secretary of the Treasury will be the most consequential and powerful cabinet member for at least the next two administrations.
Giuliani, on the other hand, is a rare breed of public official: polarizing in times of peace and tranquility, but perfect in times of crisis, public unease, and public anger. Giuliani cleaned up the rat-infested, crime-laden capital of the world unlike any other mayor in New York City’s history. As a prosecutor, he destroyed the city’s five mafia families, bragged he’d do it beforehand, and had assassination-hits put out on him because of it. As mayor, he tackled bureaucracy, disorder, and crime. Take it from us. We still remember what Manhattan was like before him.
After running their company into the ground at the tax payer’s expense, and then being bailed out at $85 billion on the tax payer’s credit card, the head-honchos at AIG just spent hundreds of thousands on late night resort getaways, getting rub downs at spas, laughing it up in hotel saunas. The public is furious and wants heads to roll. Giuliani’s street corner, in-your-face persona – off-putting when there is no public outrage – would play perfectly with an angry electorate, who wants to see the next administration kick some tail and take some names.
It could work. At this point, McCain has very few options left. Envision it: Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin campaigning alongside would-be Secretary Romney and would-be Attorney General Giuliani, promising: “Send us to Washington and we’ll knock some skulls around.”
If successful, the campaign could even go one step further. Announcing posts for Joe Lieberman and Geraldine Ferraro, whose distaste for Sen. Obama is obvious, would be a second dramatic move. The impact of choosing two former Democratic vice presidential candidates would close the argument on who’s the real reformer that would reach across the aisle.
Although we have discussed this idea privately the past several months, applause must be given to Bill O’Reilly for suggesting this move in recent days. Hopefully, McCain won’t be fearful of appearing on a ranting Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” list, and will toss the dice on this gamble.
If Americans took a look at such an assembly – a team of a well-known war hero and foreign policy guru, an energy expert governor with a record of reform, and two competent, widely-recognizable, and highly accomplished executives – and instead decide to elect a young, recently unknown, still unexamined, and unusually unaccomplished young man with the most liberal, tax-and-spend voting record in the Senate, then nothing would have worked for Sen. McCain this year.