Rudolph Giuliani should look over his shoulder.

He might be leading the Republican presidential contest nationally, but in Iowa he’s only in third place — trailing two former governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas — in the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

But that’s not why the former New York City mayor should look over his shoulder. Here’s why.

On Wednesday, he went out of his way to get to the B&L Vintage Brew & Sugar Shack in Rock Rapids. There, he went out of his way to get to the middle of the crowd so he could tell folks what he knows.

But, with photographers in front of him, he didn’t notice the handwritten sign hanging from a lamp pole behind him.

It read: “The quickest way for a man to reveal his ignorance is to try to tell someone how much he knows.”

Indeed, it was a quick speech — one punctuated by camera flashes.

And by the time it was done and the pictures were published, perhaps the big-city mayor gained a little country wisdom.

And speaking of signs …

It was nearly impossible to avoid comparing last week’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines to a heavyweight title fight in the Democratic presidential contest.

The hype was just as intense. The crowd was every bit as pumped up and ready to see blood. The stage was set like a boxing ring — with shrubbery.

But the really brutal contest came long before the candidates’ speeches, when competing armies of campaign volunteers engaged in a cutthroat competition dubbed “sign wars.”

A few hours before the event, there was a mad scramble as campaigns tried to seize prime real estate for their yard signs, banners and balloons.

Within about one minute, backers of Sen. Chris Dodd had filled the trees with strings of swinging yellow signs. Sen. Barack Obama’s forces added their trademark “O” ornaments. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s people went for volume, posting the most signs per square foot — and the biggest billboards, too.

Former Sen. John Edwards’ troops erected a screen where they projected an inspirational slide show. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s folks used sidewalk chalk to tag as much concrete as they could. And Sen. Joseph Biden’s fans erected hand-painted signs (like the ones used in elections for high-school student-body president) to tell the world he is “the grown-up in the race.”

That night’s speeches in a sold-out arena were punctuated by supposedly “spontaneous” outbursts from all the campaigns’ backers. But all the candidates used some form of mass choreography to show how much they are loved.

Obama’s people helpfully discarded their crowd script on the floor near the media section.

A sampling:

“In the middle of the Senator’s speech, he will say ‘change the American people can believe in.’ When he does, make sure you’re holding your ‘Change We Can Believe In’ placard — your Section’s Sign Captain will be holding a Cue at the bottom of your section — look for it!”

“Near the end of the Senator’s speech there will be an obvious moment when you should stand up. We will do this in a coordinated way, so look for your section captain to hold up a cue card that says ‘STAND’ at the bottom of your section and (underlined) don’t stand until you see that cue.”

And finally…

There was some delightful irony at the very end of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate on CNN.

Early on, Clinton had to answer questions about whether she was exploiting her gender by talking about the “boys’ club” ganging up and attacking her in the previous debate — when she was widely perceived to have stumbled.

But at the end of Thursday’s debate, the last question came from a young woman who wanted to know — only from Clinton — whether she preferred “diamonds or pearls.”

Both, she said.

Nobody was asking the boys what kind of jewelry they preferred. Because, after all, the television pundits were only talking about Clinton and how these types of debates, once again, are this woman’s best friend.

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