For Giuliani Supporters, Florida Is a Bitter End

Florida Republicans blame Giuliani's loss on his risky strategy of focusing only on the Sunshine State.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani salutes supporters as his wife Judith Giuliani (L) claps during a post primary campaign rally at the Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando January 29, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the projected winner of the Florida Republican primary, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judith Giuliani during a post primary campaign rally in Orlando, Florida.

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The mayor seemed to think otherwise. Millionaire Romney had overwhelmed the state with television ads, though Giuliani did place more in the month of January. In one of those ads, the mayor resorted to boasting about how many newspaper endorsements he didn't get—the Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel—by labeling them as liberal. He spent more days in the state by far than any other candidate, and he distinguished himself by speaking directly to the concerns of Floridians, calling for a national catastrophe fund and a reinvigorated space program. By the time of his concession speech at 9:30 p.m., however, it was clear that his message had failed to resonate. McCain had been anointed winner, and rumors that Giuliani was leaving the race were spreading.

Giuliani's concession speech recapped his principal themes—strong national security and low taxes—but contained none of his fight. He spoke broadly about the responsibility of leadership. But he didn't say that he would be that leader. He made no mention of taking the fight to California or New Jersey or his home state of New York. To the disappointed Autiello and the 200 or so other assembled supporters, he said, "The future of our nation is in good hands because it is in your hands."