If you believe the WashTimes, “conservative leaders” decided en masse this week that a Giuliani nomination is just too darned likely and thus they must unite behind a single social-con candidate ASAP. The sources for this scoop: Pat Buchanan’s former campaign manager, an Iowa congressman who believes Rudy’s victory would be the end of conservatism, and the head of the American Conservative Union, which coincidentally just endorsed Mitt Romney. The idea is that Huck’s ascent in Iowa will kneecap Mitt, the only social con with the cash on hand to slay the RINO before he sneaks through the primaries.

The problem with that logic, as HA readers know (and as one political analyst interviewed by the WT acknowledges), is that Huck’s creeping up on Rudy, too, in Florida. In fact, Giuliani’s flagging a bit in several states. Any reason to think he might be in for more rough times? Well … yeah. Not only are he and his handlers already getting jumpy with the press, but the security expenses scandal is very gradually getting hotter, like the proverbial frog in the pan as the temperature ticks up by one-degree increments. The story started with Politico claiming that Rudy buried his security detail expenses in obscure agency budgets to hide the fact of his affair with Judi Nathan; in the past day there’s been news of still more strange expenses, then claims that city taxpayers ended up paying for Nathan’s security on long-distance trips even when she wasn’t with Rudy, and then an allegation that they might have paid for security for Nathan’s friends and family when she wasn’t with them. Rudy’s former deputy mayor initially claimed that mayors have been dumping expenses into various city agencies for years — then backed away from it after Koch’s and Dinkins’s people said au contraire. Rudy himself explained away the expenses by saying that allocating them to the NYPD’s budget, where they belonged, would have resulted in delay. When asked if that was true, the current NYPD commissioner politely disagreed.

The surprise ace in the hole here? Mayor Mike, whose own alleged antipathy to Rudy (and possible campaign ambitions) didn’t prevent his aides from supplying an excuse:

The office of current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement Thursday night stating, “during the Giuliani Administration, we believe that security expenses that were originally paid by the Mayor’s office were ultimately reimbursed by the Police Department.”…

Sources in Bloomberg’s office also tell Fox News that they take issue with Politico’s characterization of some of the offices that were billed by the NYPD as “obscure.” While current officials can’t explain why the NYPD would have initially billed offices like the City Loft Board and Office for People with Disabilities for police costs, they assert that the offices fall within the mayor’s budget and are not “disparate” or “obscure.” In sum, if a mayor was trying to cover up costs, he would not use those offices.

If the Politico angle starts to vanish, watch the goalposts start to move and the vagaries of Judi Nathan’s security become the focus.