Despite a flurry of reports that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are surging in the 2008 presidential primary race, many Republican strategists believe that Sen. John McCain remains in firm control of the contest. "He's doing everything right, has the funding, and is ready to take on the opponents," says one GOP adviser to the White House. Another key Republican political strategist says that it is significant that none of the opponents have so far taken shots at McCain: "They are leaving him alone; nobody's gone after him, and that's crazy." Over the past week, strategists in interviews have laid out McCain's advantages over the competition. First, he has huge name recognition and a good reputation. Second, he has the ability to outraise most of his opponents. And third, he is well organized in key primary and caucus states and has built an aggressive staff. In fact, the strategists see the fingerprints of the McCain campaign in recent stories about how Romney has moved to grab the conservative mantle by switching his positions on gays and abortion.
By Paul Bedard