Going …. Going ….

The good news today is from the Wall Street Journal: Rudy Giuliani has lost his lead for the GOP nomination in national polls.

After holding a double-digit advantage over his nearest rivals just six weeks ago, the former New York City mayor now is tied nationally with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 20% among Republicans, just slightly ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 17% and Arizona Sen. John McCain at 14%. Other polls show Mr. Giuliani’s lead shrinking in Florida, one of the states he has built his strategy around.

Certainly the entire GOP field is a sorry mess, but Rudy truly frightens me.

Josh Marshall writes,

When Rudy Giuliani’s soft lead in the national polls evaporates, suddenly he’ll be just another GOP hopeful lining up to get his head sliced off in the first big primary and caucus contests. … the big picture is clear: Rudy’s lost his nationwide lead wide.

And the downward momentum will probably push him still further too.. With dismal numbers in the early races and lukewarm numbers nationwide, what’s his political strategy again? Is there any rationale for still calling him the frontrunner?

Yesterday Giuliani was admitted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis for “flu-like symptoms.” I’m not predicting this, exactly, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Giuliani suddenly develops more health problems that will force him to withdraw from the race, particularly if his poll numbers continue to slide. See Down With Tyranny on this point, also. When Giuliani dropped out of the 2000 Senate race because of prostate cancer (and other things), Hillary Clinton had gained a 10-point lead over him in the polls.

Adam Nagourney’s account in the New York Times recalls a campaign in trouble:

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign began to falter in March. New York police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Patrick Dorismond, after he ran from undercover agents who asked if he had any drugs to sell. Mr. Giuliani authorized the release of Mr. Dorismond’s sealed criminal records from when he was a juvenile and went on Fox News Sunday, where he proclaimed that Mr. Dorismond was “no altar boy.” The remarks ripped across an already polarized city.

Mr. Clinton had already been scheduled to appear the next night at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Harlem. The church was packed with cameras and reporters as Mrs. Clinton, clasping hands with prominent black leaders, walked in singing “We Shall Overcome,” before delivering a speech accusing Mr. Giuliani of dividing the city.

Mr. Giuliani headed upstate, for a Republican dinner in Binghamton. He spoke for exactly 22 minutes, stood for an eight-minute news conference, and then turned for home. Less than a week later, he abruptly canceled four upstate events because, he said, he wanted to attend the rescheduled opening game of the Yankees.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign pounced. Overnight, aides arranged a trip for her to the cities Mr. Giuliani had snubbed and worked the telephone with upstate reporters to stoke the story.

The End

By the time Mr. Giuliani stepped in front of the cameras to announce he was dropping out, Republicans had already concluded that the mayor would not stay in the race: indeed, many were praying he would not. His cancer seemed almost beside the point.

If Rudy is trailing as the big primary days approach, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds some excuse to drop out. I’m not saying he will; just that it wouldn’t surprise me.