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Blame the pundits

In a new ad airing in Florida today, Giuliani hints at a new justification for his focus on the Feb. 5 states, - Tuesday's upset victories.
/ Source: National Journal

One-time national front-runner Rudy Giuliani finished sixth in Iowa -- and didn't visit the state in the week leading up to the caucuses. And although the former New York City mayor did campaign in New Hampshire briefly, he was already in Florida before the results started coming in, and he placed fourth there.

Winning the early primary states was never Giuliani's goal. Having long emphasized a national strategy, Giuliani is still in the thick of it after Iowa and New Hampshire indicated it's a murky and wide-open race. In a new ad airing in Florida today, Giuliani hints at a new justification for his focus on the Feb. 5 states, thanks to the pundits left with egg on their faces following Tuesday's upset victories.

"Super Bowl" opens with a montage of televised news clips. "With pundits and politicos handicapping the campaign like the Super Bowl, it's easy to lose sight of what's at stake," an announcer says. "The media loves process. Talking heads love chatter. But Florida has a chance to turn down the noise."

Giuliani has long portrayed Florida as his chance to seize control of the race for the GOP nomination. He's launching a bus tour through the state on Sunday, and his campaign has been focusing on absentee ballot outreach there. As other contenders duke it out in South Carolina and Michigan, Giuliani has largely had the Sunshine State all to himself. The National Review's Patrick Basham writes, "Giuliani may be in the best overall shape of any Republican candidate. Giuliani's advantage over his competitors in key facets of the nomination battle is increasingly overlooked; too little attention has been paid to his financial resources, organization, and electability."

But Florida is hardly a done deal. Giuliani's once-double digit lead has shrunk in recent months, and according to RealClearPolitics' poll averages, he has only a 5-point advantage there, with , and all gaining ground. Still, New Hampshire has given Giuliani one lesson he can find solace in: Polls are fallible.

All in the Michigan family
Romney's aggressive advertising strategy in Iowa and New Hampshire couldn't secure wins for the former Massachusetts governor, who garnered two second-place finishes in states where he once had a commanding lead.

In a massive strategy shift, Romney's campaign announced Wednesday that it was suspending ad buys in South Carolina and Florida. "We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden told AP.

Today, Romney released his first Michigan ad since that announcement, previewing what could be his strategy to best McCain in the state's Jan. 15 primary. In a 60-second radio ad featuring Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra and his wife, the two discuss Romney's commitment to "Michigan values," such as his pro-life and pro-traditional-marriage positions. The ad also claims the Michigan native has the right experience to correct the state's sagging economy. Over the holidays, Romney released an ad addressing Michigan's labor worries.

So far, Romney has invested more in Michigan than any other candidate. McCain, who has also been focusing more intently on the state after his upset win in New Hampshire, has recently made an ad buy there, as has Huckabee.