Monday, March 12, 2007

Free Advice for Rudy

The latest YouTube video making the rounds shows Rudy Giuliani speaking at a Women's Coalition for Giuliani event. The clip is 17 years old and only 28 seconds, but it contains a sentence that, I suspect, will haunt Rudy's campaign: "There must be public funding for abortions for poor women."

Abortion is a sensitive subject for Rudy, which requires a delicate balancing act. For instance, he once supported late-term abortion. He now opposes it. Will he now also flip-flop on taxpayer-funded abortions? How about the global gag rule?

Whatever he does, one thing is crucial: how he responds to the response. Even though the video was uploaded yesterday, as of this writing, it's already been viewed 71,334 times. That's a considerable number, and Rudy's silence will only generate further skepticism and confusion.

My advice: take a page from Mitt Romney's communications shop. When potentially devastating video of the then-moderate governor's 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy surfaced on YouTube last month, within hours "GovMittRomney" had uploaded a response, showing Romney on the phone discussing the video with a reporter.

In one swift and sharp swoop, Team Romney avoided another macacca moment, and the resulting stories highlighted the push back instead of the controversy.