Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose presidential campaign fizzled in 2008, is leaning toward another race for the White House, according to a close associate. New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who has known Giuliani for more than 40 years, says the former mayor "is very close to saying he's going to run."
"If he were to make the decision today, he would run," says King.
Speaking at a dinner with reporters in Washington, King, who was an enthusiastic Giuliani supporter in 2008, said the former mayor has been quietly lining up support and exploring strategy. Giuliani has also examined the mistakes his campaign made in '08, when he did not seriously compete in a contest until the Florida primary, by which time he was hopelessly behind in the race.
It's unclear what effect a Giuliani candidacy would have on the primary campaign. There is an ongoing conversation among Republican political insiders about supposed voter unhappiness with the GOP field, and after Indiana governor Mitch Daniels' decision not to run, pundits and strategists have focused on hopes that New Jersey governor Chris Christie or House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan might be coaxed into running. Others have mentioned the name of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Few observers have looked to Giuliani as a possible savior of the Republican Party.
Yet there are some indicators to encourage the former mayor. In a new poll of New Hampshire Republicans released Monday by television station WMUR, Giuliani tied for third, well behind frontrunner Mitt Romney but ahead of Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. When WMUR asked New Hampshire GOP primary voters which candidate is the strongest leader, Giuliani placed second to Romney, although a distant second. If Giuliani were to run, he would likely focus his efforts on the Granite State.
Still, the idea of another Giuliani campaign will strike some observers as implausible. Although revered by many in the Northeast as the man who saved New York City from decades of crime and decline, Giuliani's main claim to fame among most Republicans -- his performance after the September 11 terrorist attacks -- is nearly a decade in the past. Issues have changed. Voter priorities have changed. The political cast of characters has changed. Despite all that, the race might soon include Giuliani, and voters who are unhappy with their current choices might have another.