(AP) - Early momentum is generally the surefire way to win modern presidential primaries: emerge as the front-runner in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, then steamroll through later states to become the nominee.
Most of the Democratic and Republican candidates are betting on this approach for 2008, with one notable exception. Republican Rudy Giuliani is using another formula: delegate math.
His plan is based on the fact that Florida and several other big states are voting earlier than usual to compete for influence and attention from the candidates. The Giuliani campaign thinks the shake-up might help the former New York mayor capture the nomination, even without the "must-win" early states.
Giuliani's rivals are not so sure. A political operative with the Mitt Romney campaign says "people want to vote for a winner."
And he says the winner is determined by who's on the front pages and who is perceived as the front-runner after the early primaries, long before Florida's late January vote.
History backs up that claim: Democrats John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis all came from behind to win Iowa, then gathered steam to eventually win their party's nomination; Republican George W. Bush, after winning Iowa but losing New Hampshire to Arizona Senator John McCain, managed to win South Carolina and become the 2000 nominee.