While the real battle between Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz to replace Ehud Olmert as Kadima chairperson and prime minister is taking place amongst the 30,000 Kadima members and not the wider public, the two frontrunners have retained the services of skilled campaign consultants to convince both the party membership and the general public that their candidate is worthy of Israel’s top job.
Livni’s core team consists of kingmakers Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad, the duo that established Kadima for Ariel Sharon and got him elected as Prime Minister. On Mofaz’s side is world-renowned political strategist Arthur Finkelstein. While Livni is ahead in the latest polls, Mofaz is closing the gap, and the momentum seems to be with him, hence Livni’s announcement Monday that she has formally hired Adler and Co. Within the general population, Livni is more popular, but in the crucial Kadima membership, Mofaz is stronger. Livni’s team has until September 17 to stem Mofaz’s surge, while the latter will attempt to keep his momentum going.
Mofaz’s team will position their candidate as Mr. Security, a former IDF Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense, and currently heading the strategic dialogue with the US, whose entire life was spent fighting Israel’s enemies, and as such, the secure candidate to steer the Jewish state through what is undoubtedly very stormy security seas to come.
Livni’s team will position her as a strong Mrs. Clean, as Sharon’s successor, and as someone who can restore the country’s faith in the political system in general, and in Kadima in particular. Kadima was founded on the promise of being different to the corrupt Likud, especially its notorious Central Committee. That image has been largely destroyed by Olmert, Hirshzon, Hanegbi and others. That Livni’s hands are politically clean, after all the corruption that has flooded this country of late, is the foreign minister’s strongest selling point.