Conservative leaders are panicked. The loss of Congress last fall -- one can't overestimate the shock Republicans felt upon seeing that they'd lost the Senate as well as the House -- only intensifies the condition. Democrats have a good shot at retaining control of both chambers (21 GOP senators face re-election, and just 12 Democrats). And if they claim the White House -- well, just think of it. A mere two years ago, Karl Rove could still speak of building his permanent conservative majority. But if this scenario plays out, the GOP could be a neutered minority party for eight years.
This lightning-fast change, says conservative writer and Republican observer James P. Pinkerton, has driven conservatives to conclude that they must win the White House at all costs. And that's where Giuliani comes in. Of course 9-11 remains the wellspring of his appeal, and the fact that movement conservatives viscerally loathe John McCain helps him enormously. But he also benefits handsomely from conservatives' desperation, which makes them more likely to accept someone they disagree with on certain issues. "Giuliani is the kind of candidate a party nominates after it's lost a bunch of elections," Pinkerton says. "You know: 'He's not from the base, but we're desperate to win.'"
But I suspect that Giuliani has another ready-made-- and quite sizable-- group of supporters in the GOP base. Namely, people who want to look like thoughtful citizens and need a rationale for their inevitable support of a Republican. They don't trust McCain, they don't trust a Mormon, and Giuliani has the veneer of authority and leadership. As long as you don't know anything about him. I'm not sure how much he can milk 9/11 after the last two elections (and it didn't pay off last November), and even his posturing during that event earned him the eternal enmity of the NYFD. Interestingly enough, one of the biggest Clinton-haters I know, who thought he should be kicked out of office, if not imprisoned, for his extra-marital dalliance, is now a Giuliani supporter. As the article notes, while Clinton embarrassed his family, Rudolph knowingly and intentionally humiliated his wife and children in public. But, that's the GOP for ya.