Giuliani Camp Plays 'Delegate Game'

Rudy Giuliani's campaign manager predicted Monday that the former New York mayor would emerge from the slew of nomination contests taking place Feb. 5 with a "triple digit" lead in delegates.

"We are the only candidate on Feb. 5th who has, right now, a large number of delegates that we essentially can count on," said Mike DuHaime, Giuliani's campaign manager.

Big City Mayor Focuses on Big States

While Giuliani's top aides have long talked about, in one-on-one conversations, their unconventional strategy of de-emphasizing the early contests, Monday was the first time that DuHaime and strategy director Brent Seaborn reviewed their delegate math on a conference call open to all members of the media.

To gain the Republican presidential nomination, a candidate must receive 1,191 delegates, which amounts to just more than half of the 2,380 delegate votes that are cast at the party's national convention.

"I feel very, very confident as you start to look at the delegate count that the RNC just put out last week, you start to do this as a delegate game," DuHaime said, "and start to look at places where the mayor is very strong and look at where the other candidates are strong - this very much lines up very favorably right now for us."

Giuliani trails badly in Iowa, which holds its caucuses Jan. 3, and he finds himself also trailing in New Hampshire, a state which is likely to hold a primary Jan. 8.

But Giuliani's campaign is bullish on the former mayor's chances because he currently leads in the Jan. 29 primary in Florida, a state that his campaign calls the first "treasure trove" because it awards 57 delegates.

He also leads in the Feb. 5 primaries in New York (101 delegates), New Jersey (52 delegates), Connecticut (30 delegates) and Delaware (18 delegates).

His advantage in those four states is compounded by the fact that they award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

Looking past his base of support in the mid-Atlantic, the Giuliani campaign said that it also feels optimistic about its chances in the Feb. 5 primary in Missouri. The Show Me state, where Giuliani recently won the endorsement of Republican Sen. Kit Bond., awards 58 delegates.

The Giuliani campaign also feels confident about its chances in the Feb. 5 primaries in California (173 delegates) and Illinois (70 delegates).

Nontraditional Road to the White House

Looking past the Feb. 5 states, Giuliani's campaign touted its strength in the Feb. 12 primary in Maryland (37 delegates) and the Feb. 19 primary in Wisconsin (40 delegates).

Giuliani's top aides also boasted of a three-to-one lead in the March 4 Ohio primary (88 delegates) as well as its big-name support in the March 4 Texas primary (140 delegates), where the state's Republican governor, Rick Perry, recently endorsed Giuliani.

A spokesman for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican who sits atop the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, responded to Giuliani's conference call by arguing that the early states, where the candidates have campaigned most aggressively and where the voters are the most informed, represents the clearest picture of where things are headed.

"For Mayor Giuliani to have 100 percent of Iowa voters know who he is, yet only around 11 percent of those voters support him," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, "that's a major problem for his candidacy."

Giuliani's campaign manager sought to rebut Romney's argument that momentum from early-state wins would carry him to the nomination by pointing to the GOP nomination fight in 2000.

"When we talk about the momentum effect, I would look at the 2000 campaign," said DuHaime. "I would look at obviously Gov. Bush winning Iowa and Sen. McCain winning New Hampshire, and Bush winning South Carolina and McCain winning Michigan, and obviously [McCain] didn't win the nomination.

"So, momentum from one to the next obviously didn't happen in 2000," he continued, "and now you have got a much more fluid race."