Amid talk of a presidential bid, Giuliani flies under the radar

New York's celebrity senator, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, generates near-constant buzz about a possible 2008 presidential bid. The outgoing governor, Republican George Pataki, has been making campaign reconnaissance trips to Iowa, site of the first-in-the nation presidential caucuses.

But for former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the road to a possible presidential campaign has shaped up very differently.

The man dubbed "America's Mayor" for his take-charge performance after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has been flying under the media radar, building his businesses and enjoying a prosperous private life while assessing his chances in a crowded and conservative Republican primary field.

"Whatever he's going to do, he isn't going to tell us anytime soon," said Steven Cohen, vice dean of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a longtime Giuliani watcher. "He's a very astute politician, and I'm sure he's aware of the problems he has to win the Republican nomination. It's in his interest to keep his options open."

Analysts agree that Giuliani's long record of support for gay rights, gun control and legal abortion could disqualify him as a candidate among the conservatives who dominate Republican presidential primaries. Yet with the memory of his post-Sept. 11 leadership still fresh for many voters, Giuliani has been at or near the top of virtually every national poll of likely Republican presidential contenders, along with his good friend, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

But unlike McCain and many other potential contenders, Giuliani has largely avoided the national spotlight and the political hothouses of Iowa and New Hampshire. His spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, said Giuliani spends his days promoting his consulting practice and developing his law practice. Last year, he became a named partner in a large Houston-based law firm, now called Bracewell & Giuliani, and opened its New York office, reports AP.


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