Will our right-wing Messiah take a national lead before he even announces?

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has to share his spot atop the field of Republican Presidential hopefuls this week. The newest face in the race, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, is now tied with Giuliani. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds each man earning support from 24% of likely Republican Primary voters. A week ago, Giuliani had a six percentage point lead over Thompson, 23% to 17%…

Just as startling as Thompson’s rise in this week’s poll is the continuing loss of support for Arizona Senator John McCain. The man once considered the dominant front runner in the race is now supported by just 11% of likely Republican Primary voters nationwide. That’s down from 17% in May and 14% a week ago. His support is just half of what it was in January.

McCain’s also looking at another third-place fundraising finish, according to Politico, which he hopes to compensate for by “reconnecting with the base” in July.

We’ll all look forward to that.

Meanwhile, it’s interesting that Fred’s gain in the Rasmussen poll is entirely at Mitt’s and McCain’s expense. He’s been taking chunks out of Rudy’s lead in other polls, but Giuliani’s actually up a point here from the last sample, probably on the strength of his showing at the debate. It won’t last, though, which is why he took a hard, hard turn to the right today on illegal immigration, which he’s been all for in the past. It’s the only leftist position he hasn’t hugged too tightly to relinquish now, so it looks like he’s letting it go. It won’t save him, but it can’t hurt to try.

Since we’re talking polls, a word of caution about this one. Every time new numbers come out showing Congress’s ratings in the basement, right-wing bloggers crow. Let me gently suggest that the main reason they’re tanking is because Reid and Pelosi haven’t done enough to surrender in Iraq to please their anti-war base, and so they’ve deserted her the way the right has deserted McCain. If and when they get enough Republican votes to force Bush into some type of withdrawal, not only will the war effort crumble, Congress’s ratings will probably rise. Not really cause for celebration, is it?

FYI, Fred’s on Leno tonight. We’ll be recording, of course. Exit question one: Will it hurt him that he used to be a “foreign agent”? Exit question two: Why, if McCain’s so worried about losing the Hispanic vote long-term, is he insulting Latino special interest groups by bypassing their events?