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On the campaign trail in recent weeks, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani have been trading jabs, mostly focused on the topic of illegal immigration.

As the two emerge as contentious GOP rivals, it's hard to imagine there were happier times between the two former public officials.

But, in fact, in better times the two seemed to be each other's biggest boosters.

In November 2002, as Romney prepared to face Massachusetts voters, Giuliani flew to Boston to headline an election eve rally for the candidate.

"Really, ultimately, it's not about Republican or Democrat, it's not about liberal or conservative," Giuliani told about 500 supporters who stood out in the rain, according to an account in the Boston Globe. "Ultimately it comes down to who's going to be the better leader. . . . I can't think of anyone who's proven that better over the past few years than Mitt Romney."

In 2003, when Romney set out to write his autobiographical account of his Winter Olympic triumph, his nephew and the book's ghost writer, Timothy Robinson, said the model for the book was Giuliani's memoir, "Leadership," which focused on the mayor's tenure after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

And when the Romney book, "Turnaround," was published in 2004, the back cover was topped with a glowing blurb, printed in bold, that said "Mitt Romney's account will be part of Olympic lore for generations to come." The quote was Giuliani's.

Apparently, the presidential campaign has brought about a new turnaround.

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  August 23, 2007; 7:00 AM ET
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