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“I have to study it some more,” the former New York mayor said. “I don’t think a fair tax is a realistic change for America. Our economy is dependent upon the way our tax system operates.”

Fair-tax proposals would abolish federal income taxes and other federal taxes and replace them with a form of national sales tax.

Mr. Giuliani emphasized he supported a simplified tax system and cuts in federal taxes, including elimination of the estate tax — called the “death tax” by its foes — but his response to the fair-tax question brought some cat calls and jeers. “I have a real question whether it would be the right transition for our economy,” he said.

At a press conference after his speech, Mr. Giuliani said taxes would go down under his presidency, saying his philosophy was different from the Democrats. “They want to see them go up,” he said.

Richardson’s plea

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson urged South Carolina Democrats on Saturday to avoid making a hasty decision before next year’s primary race.

Mr. Richardson met with about 100 party activists in Greenville as part of a two-day swing through the early primary state, the Associated Press reports.

“My only message here is don’t make a decision based on who raises the most money, who has the greatest political pedigree … but who has the best vision for America,” he said. “Don’t let the media tell you who the next president will be.”

Mr. Richardson’s 2008 presidential campaign reported raising $7 million in the year’s second quarter, more than he raised in the first but far behindIllinois Sen. Barack Obama ($31 million), New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ($21 million) and South Carolina nativeJohn Edwards ($9 million).

Burglar strikes

The Davenport, Iowa, campaign headquarters for Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, was burglarized Friday night.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said two laptop computers and some campaign literature were taken. A campaign worker discovered the burglary Saturday morning, and a report was filed with Davenport police, the Associated Press reports.

“It doesn’t appear that it was anything sensitive or irreplaceable,” Mr. Vietor said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce @washington