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Romney Says
Giuliani's Support Is on the Wane

Romney Says
Giuliani's Support Is on the Wane

Mitt Romney says the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination will come down to Rudy Giuliani and a more conservative challenger. Like Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney says the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination will come down to Rudy Giuliani and a more conservative challenger -- like Mitt Romney.

It's no surprise that Giuliani is doing well in national polls of Republicans, Romney said Friday, because candidates with more conservative views on social issues such as abortion and gay rights are splitting the support of like-minded voters. At some point, the former Massachusetts governor said, the party's conservative base will coalesce around a single candidate, making it tougher for Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.

"Those of us who represent that base will find that we can get that support and ultimately face up one-to-one with Mayor Giuliani," Romney said. "At that point he'll have a more challenging time, because I do not believe the Republican Party is going to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House by acting like Hillary Clinton."

Giuliani supports abortion rights and has favored gay rights and gun control. On abortion in particular, Giuliani has sought to ease the worries of conservatives by pledging to appoint judges in the mold of Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito and chief justice John Roberts. Romney said that's not enough.

"I think being pro-life is more than saying you'll appoint strict constructionist judges," Romney said.

He spoke during a taping of Iowa Public Television's Iowa Press program and later during a meeting with reporters. "I hope it comes down to me and Mayor Giuliani,"' said Romney. "I think Mayor Giuliani will likely be one of the last two as well. If I'm successful in this effort, then I'll be one of the two." For now, he said, Giuliani has maintained his lead in polls because so many candidates are vying for support from social conservatives.

"There are a lot of us fighting on that side. There are six, seven, or eight of us going after that audience, and Mayor Giuliani is pretty much alone on the other side," Romney said. "It's not a big surprise that he continues to hold that portion of the party. I think his positions are not entirely aligned with the mainstream Republican voter."

A spokesman for Giuliani dismissed Romney's comments. "This sounds likes sour grapes from Mitt Romney as Mayor Giuliani's support continues to grow and Mitt's numbers are dropping despite spending millions of his own money," said spokesman Jarrod Agen.

While Giuliani has built a lead in national polls, Romney has focused his campaigning and spending on key early states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire. Polls show he leads in those states, and Romney said that support will be hard to overcome.

"I think you're going to see the other candidates come on with their spending and their ads and their time and try and catch up," he said. "It's hard to catch up with the number of personal meetings I've had."

Romney said his campaign experience and success in the traditional early states has made him a backer of the current campaign calendar. "I think that has to be protected," he said. "I will work hard as the nominee, or if I'm the next president, to protect Iowa and New Hampshire's role coming at the beginning."

Iowa Republicans have scheduled their precinct caucuses on January 3 to keep them as the nation's first test, and Democrats are expected to take the same step this weekend. Romney said the specific date is less important than that Iowa and New Hampshire lead off the process.

"If X, Y, Z state jumps ahead and says we're going to go December 15, I would cry foul," he said. "That would be something I simply could not support." (Mike Glover, AP)

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