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Aide: Giuliani Still "Seriously Looking at" Presidential Bid

Aide: Giuliani Still "Seriously Looking at" Presidential Bid

By Scott Conroy - August 19, 2011


Though he has largely been ignored as a viable potential candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is indeed "seriously looking at" entering the race and would focus his candidacy on the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire if he jumps in, a top aide told RCP on Friday.

“He is actively thinking about it,” senior Giuliani adviser Jake Menges said. “He wants to make sure that if he gets into this that he can win. Our belief is that the New Hampshire primary is still wide open. We don’t see any reason why a decision has to be made right now.”

The colorful New York luminary and 9/11 icon is currently abroad but is set to return to the U.S. next week to further examine the possibility of a late-entry into a race that his advisers continue to believe may be winnable, even if it remains a decidedly uphill climb for a social moderate like Giuliani.

If he does toss his hat in the ring, the onetime front-runner for the 2008 Republican nomination will aim to learn from the strategic blunder he made the last time in downplaying the earliest voting states and instead focusing on Florida, while also relying on a celebrity-style campaign at the expense of traditional retail politicking.

“You’ve got to be able to see if you can raise the money, and we’ll see if we can do that,” Menges said. “You’ve got to be able to pull a team together, and I think that can be done if we have to do it pretty quickly. We’ve got a very good group of people behind us. We didn’t have the right campaign strategy [in 2008], but we certainly had some very good people supporting us, and I think if we were to jump into this thing in the next 30 to 60 days, I think we could count on a majority of those people to still be supportive.”

Giuliani and his top aides have noted with interest a series of polls showing that a significant swath of likely voters in the New Hampshire primary remain undecided. And in a field that may be crowded with Tea Party-aligned candidates vying for a predominantly conservative bloc of voters, Giuliani could conceivably seize from former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman the mantle of the establishment, mainline alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the first-in-the-nation primary state and beyond.

“His ultimate objective is to beat Barack Obama next year,” Menges said of Giuliani. “If somebody emerges that looks like they can beat Obama, he will most likely not get into the race and support that person. If it looks like nobody is igniting and looks like they can’t beat Obama, the way it looks right now, he will seriously think about getting in. He’s not going to make a decision until the end of September.”

According to Menges, Giuliani encouraged Texas Gov. Rick Perry to enter the race when the two met recently in New York. Perry was a high-profile Giuliani surrogate in 2008, and Menges said that Perry also urged Giuliani to give it another shot.

“It was like, ‘I love you; you love me,’ ” Menges said of the recent meeting between the two. “I think there’s a big mutual admiration club there, and they both encouraged each other to get into the race.”

Perry is now officially a candidate, but Giuliani has another pal who’s currently on the sidelines but may also enter the race next month: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin and Giuliani have had kind words for one another over the years and could each stand to benefit strategically from having an opponent on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum to carve up the vote in a crowded GOP field.

Menges said that Palin asked for Giuliani’s advice when she was negotiating her contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau. Menges was unsure when they last chatted, but he suggested that Giuliani shares Palin’s view that the Republican field is not yet set.

“I think the mayor agrees that it looks like the field might need to expand,” Menges said. “I think there are some other people out there lingering.” 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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