- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 27, 2007

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Judging by the effusive greeting Rudolph W. Giuliani received yesterday from Republican activists in the nation’s first primary state, it seemed like the former New York City mayor was already running for president.

But he isn’t — at least not yet. The man made famous by his steely resolve and decisive leadership after the 2001 terrorist attacks on his city said yesterday he has no idea when he will decide whether to run.

“Every day you get closer, but we don’t have a timetable yet. The timetable is, when’s the right time and when do you have the confidence and the sense that you have the whole organization,” Mr. Giuliani said, standing next to his wife, Judith Nathan.

“But most of it is about Judith and I deciding that there’s a really unique contribution that we can make,” he said.

The former mayor, who formed a presidential exploratory committee late last year, said that if he decides to enter the race, he will stress his leadership experience to voters to distinguish himself from his rivals.

“Leadership is about vision and performance,” Mr. Giuliani told about 500 party activists in a speech about himself and his beliefs. “Who has the vision, and who can perform? Because you need both. … You can ultimately judge whatever I promise you and whatever vision that I have by the things that I’ve done.”

Like other Republican candidates, Mr. Giuliani — who is pro-choice and supports homosexual rights, gun control and embryonic stem-cell research — sought to burnish his party credentials, even poking a bit of fun at his own liberal social views, which irk many staunch conservatives.

“My great hero was Ronald Reagan. I have tremendous admiration for President Bush. I don’t agree with them on everything. You know, I don’t agree with myself on everything,” Mr. Giuliani said with a laugh, drawing a good-natured response from the hundreds of people packed into the Palace Theatre.

Mr. Giuliani yesterday juggled a day full of events, paying homage to New Hampshire Republican activists, who can ease his ascension or hamper his ambitions, then dropping in to a Manchester restaurant to shake hands with potential voters.

But questions remain about whether the fiercely independent former mayor is serious about a national race. Some analysts say he is already far behind the curve set by Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, both of whom have in recent weeks snapped up top campaign veterans.

“The former mayor of New York City is quickly losing the campaign to acquire top talent,” said Jordan Lieberman, publisher of Campaigns & Elections magazine.

“While Mayor Giuliani has hired former RNC Political Director Mike DuHaime, among the most gifted operatives in the country, Rudy’s campaign staff lacks the essential depth and experience that McCain and Romney have acquired,” he said.

But Mr. DuHaime said the rumors that Mr. Giuliani will soon drop out of the race are aimed at slowing the former mayor’s momentum.

“There is an attempt to slow the campaign by saying that Mr. Giuliani is not serious,” said Mr. DuHaime, speculating that the reports are coming from competing camps. “But he is very serious.”

And some in the crowd yesterday said they are not troubled by Mr. Giuliani’s positions.

“He’s our moderate Republican,” said Pamela Goodman of Exeter, N.H. “From a Christian standpoint, I wrestle with some of his policies, but I think it’s a matter of looking @ who else is there. He has shown that he can get the job done, and that is the most important thing.”

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