He keeps an
itinerary that has all the earmarks of a full-fledged
presidential candidate: South Carolina this weekend, New
Hampshire the one before. And Rudy Giuliani, the
former New York City mayor, says he's leaning toward
''There's a real good chance,'' Giuliani told
the Associated Press on Saturday, after a 30-minute
speech and Q&A session with party leaders in
Columbia, S.C. In a year, they will hold the
first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary.
On Giuliani's visit to New Hampshire last
weekend, his first since setting up an
exploratory committee, he told reporters he'd received
a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and support from people.
But he said he had not yet decided whether he could
make the kind of ''unique contribution'' toward
strengthening the nation that would justify a run for president.
He has emphasized his steady hand dealing with
the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
However, his moderate stances on gun control,
abortion, gay rights, and other social issues could be
liabilities for him in a GOP presidential primary that
includes hard-core conservatives as a central voting group.
For instance, in November, South Carolina voters
overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on
same-sex unions. ''The fact is, I appeal to
conservative Christians the way I appeal to everyone else,''
Giuliani said at a news conference. ''I don't think
you have separate appeals to people.''
Giuliani formed a presidential exploratory
committee in November to prepare for a possible bid
for the GOP nomination in 2008. It lets him raise
money and travel the country, gauging how much support he
could expect in a campaign.
In his few first weeks Giuliani took in $1.4
million. He collected donations online and held a
major fund-raising event in New York City in December.
Financial documents show that by the start of
this year Giuliani had about $1 million available,
having spent money to set up campaign headquarters,
buy equipment, and hire workers. The Republicans' top tier
of candidates for 2008 includes Arizona senator John
McCain, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney,
former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and Kansas
senator Sam Brownback.
Giuliani's visit to Columbia wrapped up a busy
week in the state for White House hopefuls. Romney was
in the capital on Tuesday, and Brownback on Friday.
(Jim Davenport, AP)