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Amid low-key day, Giuliani avoids the political fray involving his rivals

Amid low-key day, Giuliani avoids the political fray involving his rivals

Largely out of the political debate in Iowa and New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani tried to turn the bickering among his rivals to his advantage, arguing that voters appreciate candidates who stay positive.
"We're not involved in the back and forth about criticism of each other," the former New York mayor said Sunday in Plymouth after speaking at a town hall meeting in this college town. "I kind of like that; I'd rather not do that. I don't think that's the best way to win a Republican primary. I think you're better off emphasizing what you do, what you can do, what you believe."
He cast himself as the most experienced candidate in the field, noting that beside being mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he also was an assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration and the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.
When a woman at the Mount Washington Hotel told Giuliani the last time she saw him was when he was campaigning for rival Mitt Romney during the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial race, the former mayor laughed and said, "Mitt Romney is a friend. I consider him a friend. I think he's a very good man and I think he's a very worthy candidate. I just happen to think I'm a better candidate, and I would be better at being president."
Rivals Mike Huckabee and John McCain criticized Romney on Sunday, with the former complaining about Romney's dishonest campaign and the latter accusing him of waffling on issues.
Remaining above the fray could have its drawbacks for Giuliani, whose unorthodox strategy has focused on the later, delegate-rich voting states. He has been largely absent from the main political discourse and distant finishes in the early voting states could turn him into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind candidate.
Giuliani's communications director tried to deflect criticism of the campaign's strategy. Katie Levinson said that while Giuliani may not be competing as aggressively in the leadoff states, he remains focused on Florida, which votes Jan. 29, and Illinois and Missouri, which vote Feb. 5.
More important, absentee ballots already are available in those states _ Florida and Missouri beginning last Wednesday, Dec. 26; Illinois last Thursday, Dec. 27.
"This is truly a national Republican primary," Levinson said in an e-mail to national political reporters.
Despite the explanations, Giuliani's events Sunday had little of the energy evident elsewhere on the campaign trail, as Romney, Huckabee and other Republicans competed for the hearts and votes of Iowans.
In New Hampshire, where McCain has been Romney's target, the senator drew enthusiastic crowds on Sunday.
By contrast, Giuliani's first town hall meeting had the vibrancy of a Yankee parish service, with him speaking in a low voice and aides shooing away autograph seekers and well-wishers afterward so he could do a live interview with the Fox News Channel.
Later, during a visit to the Loon Mountain ski area, the New Yorker looked out of place as he stood at the bottom of the snowy slopes, dressed in a suit, black overcoat and leather dress shoes. He barely spoke with the people who rushed up to shake his hand or seek an autograph as he wended his way through the lodge.
His final event of the day, a question-and-answer session in the columned conservatory at the Mount Washington Hotel, started nearly an hour late, prompting some in the crowd to leave out of frustration. Those who remained sat on the floor, lending a homey air as a fire burned in the fireplace behind Giuliani.
The mayor was taking off New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, saying only that he had plans for a "private celebration." Giuliani also revealed that he would be far from Iowa on Thursday, when the caucuses are held.
"We'll be in Florida, at a rally in Florida," he said.


Updated : 2020-12-04 14:06 GMT+08:00