Did you ever notice how 2008 GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani has been very quiet on the issue of the Iraq war? Mitt Romney and John McCain have both publicly supported President Bush’s troop surge, but Giuliani, as seems to be the pattern when anything President Bush related comes up, seems to have very little to say. I mention this because while campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday, Rudy was asked if he thought the troop surge was working. “I don’t know the answer to that,” Giuliani said. However, he did say what he thought was necessary for victory in Iraq. He believes that the U.S. needs to emphasize helping the Iraqis rebuild their country.

“By build I mean, re-establish the infrastructure, both physical and political, and the emphasis on that is going to be key to whether it does work or not. We have had success in stabilizing certain parts of Iraq. The real question is whether we can hold it and use it as an opportunity to build.” Rudy also stopped short of offering his opinion, on how President Bush is handling rebuilding the country only saying, “That part of it is the part that I would emphasize dramatically, and I can’t tell you how that’s going.” His answer doesn’t make any sense in the respect that he needs to evaluate the current efforts to see how much work remains to be done there in the future.

Giuliani also danced around a question about when he would withdraw the troops from Iraq. “The minute you start listing the circumstances under which you’re going to pull out you start talking about defeat,” Giuliani said. “What we have to achieve in Iraq is a government and a situation that acts as a bulwark against terrorism rather than as an encouragement for them — and then you’ve got to figure out the strategies to get you there and make them work.” Rudy has issued general statements of support for the president’s policies in Iraq, but he has yet to tell anyone what he would do differently militarily.

Rudy Giuliani’s weakness in the 2008 campaign is going to be foreign policy. Already McCain and Romney have been to Iraq and Rudy hasn’t, but Giuliani must toe a fine political line if he is to win the nomination. He has seen what supported President Bush too much has done to John McCain’s poll numbers, but if he would appear not to support Bush, then conservatives who are already skeptical of him would be pushed further away.

Giuliani seems to be following the Hillary Clinton plan of saying as little as possible in the hopes of getting elected. However, I don’t think this strategy will work when it comes to Iraq, which will probably be the dominant issue of the campaign. If he really expects voters to support him, he will have to specifically address the issue of Iraq at some point. Sooner or later Rudy has to stop dancing and start talking.

All Giuliani quotes are from this article.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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