CNN's Blitzer, Cafferty, and King rewrite history to claim that Giuliani skipped Iowa and New Hampshire

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK

CNN's John King, Wolf Blitzer, and Jack Cafferty all mischaracterized Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign strategy in the early states, repeating the media myth that he chose not to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, Giuliani himself has denied that his strategy was to skip the early states, telling NBC's Matt Lauer, "We've actually spent the most time in New Hampshire and then Florida is right behind that."

On the January 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN chief national correspondent John King, anchor Wolf Blitzer, and commentator Jack Cafferty all mischaracterized former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign strategy in the early states, repeating the media myth that he chose not to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire. During the first hour of the show, King falsely claimed that "Giuliani's strategy all along has been, forget about Iowa, forget about New Hampshire, forget about South Carolina, essentially saying he could sit out the early innings of the game and then jump-start with a big victory here in Florida." At the top of the second hour, Blitzer falsely claimed that "Florida will be the first and most crucial test for Rudy Giuliani. He's staked almost everything on that state -- foregoing Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina." Later, Cafferty stated, "Well, the state of Florida may answer all of the questions when it comes to Rudy Giuliani's political future. The former New York mayor has staked practically his entire campaign on winning Florida. His strategy all along -- skip the early races." And later in the second hour, Blitzer again claimed, "It's a very risky strategy -- Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani opting to forego the early primary caucus states to focus almost exclusively on Florida, which holds its primary one week from tomorrow."

However, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented (here, here, here, and here), Giuliani did not "opt[] to forgo the early primary caucus states to focus almost exclusively on Florida." Indeed, Giuliani himself denied that his strategy was to skip the early states. On the January 8 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked Giuliani: "Is that the strategy? You kind of bypass Iowa and New Hampshire and wait for Florida and New York and California?" Giuliani replied: "No, I wouldn't put it that way. What I would say is, we put a lot of time and attention into some of the states that are coming up later, like Florida. We've actually spent the most time in New Hampshire and then Florida is right behind that."

Some media falsely reported that "Iowa never played a role in [Giuliani's] strategy" and that "he barely attempted to go" to the state. In fact, an August 8, 2007, Associated Press article reported that Giuliani said: "Our largest staff contingent is now in Iowa. ... We're going to make a big effort in Iowa. We're making a big effort and our strategy was to focus on the caucuses." Other reports noted that Giuliani was "100 percent committed to winning Iowa," had made "20 stops" in the state, and maintained 12 paid staffers in two offices there.

Additionally, after some in the media had reported that Giuliani was "skipping New Hampshire," ABC News deputy political director Karen Travers and senior political correspondent Jake Tapper reported in a January 8 ABCNews.com article that "statistics compiled by ABC News indicate that he [Giuliani] was clearly competing to win in the Granite State as hard -- if not harder -- than many of his rivals." The article noted: "Statistics compiled by ABC News Political Unit and ABC News' team of off-air reporters indicate that Giuliani held more events in this first-in-the-nation primary state than any other Republican except for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in neighboring Massachusetts. He also spent more on TV ads than anyone except for Romney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz." Specifically, the article reported that Giuliani held 126 events in New Hampshire and spent $2.5 million on television spots through January 1.

From the January 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us now from Orlando. John, Giuliani's strategy has been to focus in like a laser beam on Florida. Here's the question: Is it working?

KING: Well, Wolf, let's use a baseball metaphor. Today, earlier today, the Yankees' center fielder, Johnny Damon, appeared here with Rudy Giuliani. And Giuliani's strategy all along has been, forget about Iowa, forget about New Hampshire, forget about South Carolina, essentially saying he could sit out the early innings of the game and then jump-start with a big victory here in Florida. Well, more and more of that strategy is being called into question.

[...]

BLITZER: For the Republican hopefuls, everything right now is all about Florida. Its GOP primary is one week from tomorrow. Florida Democrats have had their primary effectively canceled by the national Democratic Party for moving up the primary without the party's permission.

Florida will be the first and most crucial test for Rudy Giuliani. He's staked almost everything on that state, foregoing Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

[...]

CAFFERTY: Well, the state of Florida may answer all of the questions when it comes to Rudy Giuliani's political future. The former New York mayor has staked practically his entire campaign on winning Florida. His strategy all along: skip the early races. So far, there have been six of them, and he is 0-for the election campaign, focused rather on later delegate-rich states like Florida.

But it might not be working. Not only has Giuliani failed to win anything up to this point, but the one-time national front-runner has now finished far back in the Republican pack in all of the contests held so far. He placed behind Ron Paul in Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina. Giuliani is calling Florida "our home field," and he says he thinks he's going to win Florida, and if he does, he says he thinks he'll get the nomination, but he admits that a loss, a bad loss could be crippling, his words.

[...]

BLITZER: It's a very risky strategy -- Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani opting to forego the early primary caucus states to focus almost exclusively on Florida, which holds its primary one week from tomorrow.

GIULIANI [video clip]: The best thing for us to do was to concentrate on Florida, where we think we can make a very, very strong showing. And I think our strategy has kind of worked out because this is a wide open field. They all have to come down here. And we think we have sort of set the agenda here.

BLITZER: Our chief national correspondent John King is joining us in Orlando. Johnny -- John, Giuliani has everything staked out on Florida because of his poor performances in other states. Are they starting to get nervous about it, or do they still insist they're confident?

KING: Well, their public line, Wolf, is that they are full of confidence and they expect a victory here on the 29th. But if you watch the Giuliani campaign, you can see their nervousness. He is now being much more personal in his criticism of John McCain and Mitt Romney, saying they opposed or equivocated backing the Bush tax cut debate of 2001. You also see the mayor getting more aggressive in his campaigning here.

Their strategy was based on a few assumptions that haven't worked out, and one of them was that by the time Florida came up, John McCain would be significantly weakened or wounded and that Rudy Giuliani would step into the leadership national security void. Instead, McCain comes here fresh from a victory in South Carolina.

From the January 8 edition of NBC's Today:

LAUER: So, is it true? Is that the strategy? You kind of bypass Iowa and New Hampshire and wait for Florida and New York and California?

GIULIANI: No, I wouldn't put it that way. What I would say is, we put a lot of time and attention into some of the states that are coming up later, like Florida. We've actually spent the most time in New Hampshire and then Florida is right behind that.

LAUER: If you've spent the most time in New Hampshire, how do you feel about where you're polling right now, because you're -

GIULIANI: Well, we'll find out.

LAUER: Because you're polling in the fourth or fifth position. So what's that say about your candidacy?

GIULIANI: We'll find out. We put a lot of time in in New Hampshire. We put an equal amount of time into Florida. And then, in comparison to the other candidates, some of the other candidates put a lot more time into Iowa and New Hampshire. The main thing is, this is a 29-state primary caucus in one month. Whoever wins 16, 18, is going to be in the best position. And it's about message. I think our message of lower taxes, restraint on government spending, our message of remaining on offense in the terrorists' war against us is one that is going to work in enough of the states that we'll get nominated.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
John King, Wolf Blitzer, Jack Cafferty
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Rudy Giuliani, 2008 Elections
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