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Senior campaign advisors to three of the Republican party’s top candidates for the presidential nomination — Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain — identified key challenges to their candidates’ campaigns at an event held Monday night in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
“The race isn’t starting any earlier than usual, but it’s more intense than it’s been in the past,” noted moderator Mark Halperin, political director for ABC News and a current joint visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
Responding to what Halperin described as the campaign’s biggest issue, senior advisor to Rudy Giuliani Chris Henick acknowledged that dealing with the issue of Iraq will be one of the toughest challenges for their candidates. “In 2006, the Democrats were successful in attempting to decouple Iraq in the overall war on terror,” noted Henick. Since 2004, added John McCain’s senior campaign advisor Rick Davis, when McCain identified Iraq as the transcendent issue of our time, “he hasn’t spent a day in the public domain not talking about Iraq.... I think what he sees as his charge is to create national will.”
McCain’s willingness to keep the issue of Iraq at the front of the discussion is noteworthy, according to Romney’s senior campaign advisor. “We admire his courage,” quipped Alex Castellanos. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics and the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
Watch a video of the event at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum archive.
Photo: Jon Chase, Harvard News Office
(L-R) Alex Castellanos, Romney for President; Rick Davis, John McCain 2008; Chris Henick, Rudy Giuliani for President.