Washington Babylon — October 22, 2007, 1:51 pm

Romney, Giuliani, and Bob Jones

As of yet Mitt Romney has failed to demonstrate any significant level of national support–yet he has as good a chance as anyone to emerge as the Republican presidential nominee for 2008. There are two major reasons for that: money and Rudy Giuliani.

Thus far, Romney has raised around $63 million, more than any other GOP candidate, and thanks to his personal wealth he isn’t likely to be running low on campaign funds any time soon. Hence, he’ll be able to keep paying for the flood of TV ads that pushed him to the top of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Romney’s strategy is to outlast John McCain, Fred Thompson, and Mike Huckabee, to become the “conservative” alternative to Giuliani, who many on the right just can’t stomach. In my November magazine article on Romney’s campaign (now available online for free), his South Carolina consultant, Warren Tompkins, told me: “If it’s Romney versus Giuliani, we win if we do our job right. Social groups, right to life organizations, the Bob Jones crowd are all sitting on the sidelines but Rudy scares them and when a conservative alternative comes to the top they will move there.”

That’s probably a smart bet, as seen in last week’s decision by Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of the fundamentalist Christian university, to endorse Romney. “This is all about beating Hillary,” he told The Greenville News in making the announcement.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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