Over at The Weekly Standard's campaign blog, pseudonymous blogger "Richelieu" tries to divine the method behind Giuliani's madness:

Team Rudy is no collection of fools; there is a crafty plan lurking behind this expectations house of mirrors.

Step One: Down-play Iowa and New Hampshire with lots of mumbo jumbo about the big states and the vast canvas of national politics.

Step Two: Pump mail, radio and other quiet activity into Iowa and New Hampshire by the freight car load. Quietly match Romney field staff size in Iowa, but hold TV for late since it is only thing press really notices.

Step Three: Act shocked and amazed when Rudy soars over all expectations to a stunning and amazing third place finish in Iowa with 17 percent of the vote (or even get lucky and hit second place), while Mitt Romney "loses" Iowa by only winning with 38 percent to Mike Huckabee's stunning 32 percent. Then ride that "upset" bounce (the bounce you officially don't believe in) into New Hampshire on breathless press coverage and win another huge and amazing upset, beating a wounded Romney and McCain, among the most pro-choice and moderate-friendly GOP primary states. Run the table thereafter to win the nomination, clinching it on February 5.

This may well be the thinking inside the Giuliani camp--it's consistent with what his top strategists said on their conference call Monday. But it's also, you know, deranged. If the final outcome in Iowa is 38-32-17, no amount of spinning is going to net Giuliani momentum (at least not of the forward-moving variety). Under that scenario, the national front-runner (which the Giuliani campaign keeps reminding us he is) will have been annihilated by a guy most people have barely heard of (Romney) and a guy no one has heard of (Huckabee). That's just not a formula for good media, regardless of how impressive an outcome it is relative to pundits' expectations. Now, if the final outcome is something like 28-25-22, then we'll have something to talk about. But that's a lot different than having two far less well-known candidates double your vote-total.  

--Noam Scheiber