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TOP OF THE TICKET

Giuliani plays contrast and compare

Also: Democrats' open-mike night, the `Canal Street Madam,' and can we mention Ron Paul?

July 15, 2007|DON FREDERICK AND ANDREW MALCOLM | Excerpted from The Times' political blog Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket. Staff writer Scott Martelle contributed.

One of the goals of political campaigning is to contrast yourself with opponents. Sometimes it's overtly contrasting policies. Sometimes, as with the Mitt Romney campaign, it can be playing up your own seemingly idyllic family to contrast with someone else's troubled one like, say, the thrice-married Rudy Giuliani, whose son isn't talking to him.

Clearly, Giuliani is driving home a bit of contrasting himself these days. With all the recent talk about John McCain's fundraising troubles and staff cuts forcing him to concentrate efforts in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, Giuliani last week had his campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, initiate a national conference call to tell reporters that fundraising was going so well, they were beginning to expand campaign operations into another dozen states. Get that message?

To follow up and to drive home the point even more, the Giuliani campaign made a series of separate announcements of state staff appointments, including in California.

Good contrast to be announcing campaign staff expansions now instead of layoffs.

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Can you hear me now? Oops!

Last week at the NAACP forum in Detroit, microphones captured a cryptic exchange between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. The forum was actually over. Ex-Sen. Mike Gravel had just gone on denouncing Bill Clinton's free trade policies. Edwards walked over to shake Clinton's hand. She forgot about her lapel mike. It transmitted the following:

"Our guys should talk," says Clinton. "We've got to talk because they, they are, just being trivialized."

"They are not serious," Edwards responded.

Clinton agreed. "You know, I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. We got somehow, you know, detoured. But we've got to get back to that "

So what is it the Clinton and Edwards campaigns need to get back to cooperating on? Weeding out some of the second-tier candidates?

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The actor knows timing

It looks like Fred Thompson is doing so well in the polls by not running yet that he's decided to not run for a while longer.

His campaign announcement, first rumored for July 1, then July 4 and then mid-July, now won't come until August, according to both Fox News and CNN.

If that's true, mid-August would make the most sense. That timing would enable Thompson, still organizing a campaign, to duck the Aug. 11 Republican straw poll in Ames and still have his announcement quickly overshadow the anticipated victory of Mitt Romney.

Such a move would fly in the face of tradition, however. In politics, August is believed to be a time when virtually no one outside the campaigns listens to anything but the sounds of vacation. And no Republican who has skipped the Ames straw poll has gone on to win the Iowa caucus.

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Sen. Vitter still has friends

Amid the trials and tribulations Sen. David Vitter faces after disclosing his connection to an alleged prostitution ring in Washington, at least one acquaintance is rallying to his defense: New Orleans' so-called "Canal Street Madam."

The Times-Picayune (always high on our list of best-named U.S. newspapers) caught up with Jeanette Maier as word spread of Vitter's indiscretion, and she had nothing but praise for him. Based on visits she said he made to her house of ill repute, Maier characterized him as "honorable" and a "good man." And she was more than willing to elaborate.

"I know he's not a drug addict," she said. "I know he's not a person that would down-talk a woman. I know that he's respectful.... His wife should be very proud of her husband irregardless of what he's done."

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Ron Paul Ron Paul

Howard Mortman, the former producer of "Hardball" and former editor of The Hotline, was among the first to discover the online power of Ron Paulites, the fervent followers of Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas libertarian who is running for president this time as a Republican. These people apparently have nothing else to do but surf the Web planting praise for Ron Paul and righting wrongs against him.

So Mortman, who has also been a stand-up comedian, wrote a blog item consisting essentially of Ron Paul's name mentioned over and over. The result: His site got swarmed by Paulites.

In the interest of boosting his online page views, Mortman has done it again. Only this time he's created a top ten list of why Ron Paul is not libertarian enough.

We won't steal the whole list, but it's too good not to share:

No. 10: Ron Paul's passport was issued by the U.S. government.

No. 9: When the National Hurricane Center suggests Ron Paul take shelter, he does.

No. 2: Ron Paul's Social Security number is not of his choosing.

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