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Thursday, April 27, 2006

They play dirty


Can Rudy Pass As Republican?

Hillary Helps

By Jason Horowitz

Freshly returned from the midterm campaign trail, a smiling Rudy Giuliani was welcomed into the friendly confines of Cipriani’s on the evening of April 25. As waiters in white coats scurried about the main dining room, Mr. Giuliani made an entrance worthy of a Presidential contender.

“I’ve spent a lot of time down in the South,” he told The Observer as he walked in with his wife Judith on his arm. “I just got back from New Orleans. It was devastating, but I’m back in New York. I love New York. I’m from New York.”

The black-tie affair, thrown by the Manhattan Institute, Mr. Giuliani’s old cheering section, marked a homecoming of sorts for the 61-year-old former Mayor. During the last several months, he has spent a lot of time under the radar and below the Mason-Dixon Line, quietly building coalitions with conservative Republicans as he prepares for a potential 2008 Presidential bid.

Despite Mr. Giuliani’s absence from the national stage, Tuesday night’s hobnobbing with Tom Wolfe, David Brooks and Mortimer Zuckerman served as a reminder that the former Mayor is a genuine celebrity. He enjoys enormous national name recognition and is widely seen as a strong leader because of the resolve he showed during the Sept. 11 attacks.

But there is also a serious question of how long Mr. Giuliani can remain at the top of national Republican polls (along with his friend, Senator John McCain) while holding starkly unconservative positions on abortion and gay rights. Moderation may work here in New York, but it doesn’t necessarily fly in the red states.

Perhaps for that reason, Mr. Giuliani has been skipping straw polls and lying low to keep those issues—plus his two divorces—buried below the headlines.

But some Republican strategists see in Mr. Giuliani’s recent and conspicuous support of conservative candidates an effort to quell opposition from the Republican right wing should he eventually run.

“It gives him an opportunity to campaign for candidates and neutralize the opposition,” said Arnold Steinberg, a Republican strategist. “Because there will be people who may not be for him, but they won’t be passionately against him.”

And so Mr. Giuliani has dropped in on the Global Pastors of Florida, campaigned with pro-life Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, and signed on for a fund-raiser for Ralph Reed, the co-founder of the Christian Coalition and a candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia. This weekend, he is holding a cocktail party for a more like-minded Republican, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

The busy schedule also allows Mr. Giuliani to stay in the thick of Presidential politics without overexposing himself in the national limelight. By conquering new constituencies with tough talk about national security, Mr. Giuliani is showing conservative America that he is a candidate they can live with, if not love. And that could just be enough if the Republican Party needs a New Yorker to stand up to Mr. Giuliani’s old foe, Senator Hillary Clinton, in a general election.

And so Mr. Giuliani is dusting off some old Hillary barbs.

“We’re both Yankee fans,” Mr. Giuliani said of Mrs. Clinton while campaigning this month with Senator Santorum in the home state of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I became a Yankee fan growing up in New York. She became a Yankee fan growing up in Chicago.”

But Anthony V. Carbonetti, a top executive at Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm, and a close advisor to Mr. Giuliani, warned that it was too early to determine who would stand “at the other end of the ring,” meaning that it is unclear who will emerge as the Democratic Party’s nominee. He also emphasized that Mr. Giuliani hasn’t decided whether to run or not. He added, however, that if Mr. Giuliani does run, he would find common ground with many in the Republican Party.

Notice McCain making nice with the fundies. Why? Because they play tough. Giuliani is just the less mean version of Mario Cuomo. Yes, less mean.

He's unlikely to run, because the fundies have their traps all laid out for him, and Bush doesn't have much use for him, especially after mobbed up cop Bernie Kerik. He'll dither and bullshit, but he doesn't have the guts to answer hard questions about his character, his adultery and mob associate dad.

A twice married Catholic adulterer who is gay friendly can't hide behind 9/11 forever. Other questions will come up. And one of the fundy ministers is lying in wait to hammer him, if their rival backs them.

posted by Steve @ 12:34:00 PM

12:34:00 PM

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