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The terrain shifts on Giuliani

January 10, 2008 | 10:52 pm

The changing mix of issues in the presidential campaign -- and the difficulty that poses for Rudy Giuliani -- was on vivid display during Thursday night's debate among the Republican White House contenders.

A significant shift has occurred in the topics that dominate the political discussion in both parties. As The Times' Peter Wallsten wrote almost a month ago, the spotlight has moved "from the battlefields of the Middle East and toward kitchen-table issues, such as the economy."

So it was that the first question posed by the Fox News team moderating Thursday's get-together concerned the likelihood of a recession and what should be done about the growing signs of economic problems. And so it was that the first question concerning foreign affairs came about 40 minutes into the 90-minute forum.

Giuliani's presidential bid is premised on party stalwarts setting aside his liberal record on social issues and rallying to him because of his commitment to tackle the terrorism threat head-on and with vigor. The more that subject is not front and center, the more there is a sense of drift to his efforts.

-- Don Frederick