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Giuliani’s Endless Campaign

Is he serious about the White House? Or is this just an exercise in branding?

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Rudy Giuliani’s announcement that he has formed an exploratory committee for a presidential run has raised as many questions as answers. He’s never made a secret of the scope of his ambition—but though he was often seen on the hustings during the past campaign season, he has no national organization to speak of. And notwithstanding his impressive poll numbers, his pro-abortion views, three marriages, and gay-friendliness are thought to be fatal defects in many Republican primaries. So what’s his game plan?

(1) Winning. Last week, as John McCain announced his exploratory bid, Giuliani hosted a luncheon at an upscale restaurant for 30 Republican fund-raisers from across the country. Their mission, Giuliani insiders say, is to gauge how much dough they could raise.

(2) Almost winning. Giuliani could always run for vice-president, perhaps on McCain’s ticket. The two are good friends, as are McCain’s top campaign adviser, John Weaver, and Giuliani’s top political consigliere, Anthony Carbonetti.

(3) Winning by losing. Barring a scandal, the attention helps his business, Giuliani Partners, and his clout within the GOP.

So what’s he doing? Mention the word vice-president to anyone inside Giuliani’s inner circle and you get withering dismissals. As his old pollster, Frank Luntz, puts it, “Why shoot for No. 2 when some polls have him at No. 1?” New Hampshire Republican Party chair Wayne Semprini says that, unlike other visiting politicos, Giuliani is “an attraction.” But there’s a difference between coming to see someone and voting for him. “I wouldn’t trade places with them,” Weaver, the McCain strategist, says.

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