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For Giuliani, McCain is Now a Rival Worth Fighting With


McCain on the trail, no longer trailing as far behind the GOP field, is now a target for his rivals. (AP).

For months this summer, Rudy Giuliani's operatives laid off of John McCain as his campaign tanked, ran out of money and seemed to be little threat to the frontrunner.

But that appears to be over.

On Friday, the two camps clashed as McCain became the only top Republican candidate to directly criticize the former mayor when his former police commissioner, Bernie Kerik, was indicted.

"Rudy Giuliani's history with Bernie Kerik is a story of poor judgment," said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, in a statement. "A president's judgment matters and Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly placed personal loyalty over regard for the facts."

That apparently did not sit well inside the Giuliani camp, which responded with remarkable venom, considering their usual "we're the front-runner" restraint.

"Best as I can tell, it's just John McCain's pure desperation in the face of a failing and flailing campaign trumping his so-called straight talk," wrote Giuliani Communications Director Katie Levinson. "It is truly a shame that John McCain has chosen to stoop this low."

Earlier in the day, Levinson had gone after McCain over reports that the Arizona senator was receiving help from an independent group airing ads on his behalf, and that McCain was negotiating a loan to help finance his campaign.

"Let me get this straight - first, campaign finance crusader John McCain oversees a campaign that spiraled completely out of control and went bankrupt and now he wants a questionable $3 million loan?" Levinson wrote. "Doesn't quite pass the smell test, does it?"

The new tone aimed at McCain may indicate some fear among his rivals as McCain rises a bit in the polls. Recent national polls have McCain in either second or third place.

And campaign operatives well remember 2000, when McCain surged past front-runner George W. Bush in New Hampshire to nearly steal away the nomination. It's not impossible to think McCain has one more New Hampshire surprise left in him.

--Michael D. Shear

Posted at 3:06 PM ET on Nov 12, 2007
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No more RepubliCONs in office...EVER!

Posted by: camera_eye_1 | November 13, 2007 8:45 PM

Read Brooks' article. There is really only one great man running for the president this year. McCain has more character, honesty, determination, and true conservative beliefs than "panderer in chief" Romney and Rudy.

Posted by: johnplauche | November 13, 2007 2:31 PM

Just read this morning's article by David Brooks of the NYTimes about John McCain...."Bullseye". Admittedly, I had reservations about John McCain over the past year but the article covers the man over a considerable period of time and I have no doubt that compared to the front running Mayor....John McCain is the man.

Posted by: odell.bob | November 13, 2007 12:54 PM

This Kerik thing is a big deal. Rudy knew for a very long time about the unsavory characters Mr. Kerik associates with and the fact that he turned a blind eye only proves one thing, that he wasn't thinking about running for President at the time. Rudy's campaign is based solely on opportunism and it is sad that he is the frontrunner only because he walked around ground zero after 9/11. There are plenty of people who were affected by that day who do not hold the Mayor in high regard. Coupled with the fact that his approval ratings were Bush like on 9/10, it seems so obvious.

McCain is, and has been, consistent and his motives are difficult to question, especially with two of his own sons currently in harms way.

As an aside, something that has garnered virtually no press is the fact that Rudy and Mitt have pulled out of all the remaining Republican debates. They are obviously worried that the more people see them standing next to someone like McCain the less likely they will be to vote for either of them.

Posted by: rlpawlin | November 13, 2007 11:13 AM

"Giuliani is Dimocrat in everything but name"

Absolutely! He's a Dem in everything but name, tax policy, education policy, immigration policy, trade policy, Iraq policy, health care policy, and wanting to recklessly start a needless war with Iran. Apart from that- NO DIFFERENCE!

Posted by: howlless | November 13, 2007 10:53 AM

So much for McCain being the guy Giuliani would support if he wasn't in the race himself...


rdklingus- you appear to be right on target re: Ms Levinson.

Posted by: bsimon | November 13, 2007 9:51 AM

Rudy's campaign spokesperson appears to be quite a nasty piece of work, just like her candidate. Last week she brought up McCain's involvement in the Keating scandal of 20 years ago, and Joe Biiden's 20 years ago speech"plagiarism" . Mc Cain is a real leader who has experienced first hand the horrors of war and torture. He has taken leadership roles on the need for campaign finance reform, immigration, and fiscal responsibility. He spoke out early about the mistakes made in the prosecution of the war and all of these positions have cost him with the GOP base. Compared to Rudy and Mitt, McCain is authentic and consistent .

Posted by: rdklingus | November 13, 2007 9:24 AM

McCain is a ridiculous old war horse still looking for a war he can win, and if he became president he wouldn't stop until every last person in the military came home in a box. While the American people overwhelmingly want the war in Iraq over with and al the troops home, MCain still stamps his feet and holds his breath insisting there's something left to win in Iraq when this war was lost the very first day an American soldier stepped foot in Baghdad. He goes to Baghdad surrounded by guards and overhead helicopters fly with guns ready and comes home and tells us how safe it is there. What a clown.

Posted by: Steamboater | November 13, 2007 4:47 AM

Rasmussen poll just put McCain 2 points ahead of Hillary in a head to head.

Posted by: donttreadonme | November 12, 2007 10:21 PM

Interesting take, Mr. Shear. I believe Mr Giuliani's response is motivated more by concern over the Kerik situation than McCain, but hey, reasonable people may differ.

Posted by: zukermand | November 12, 2007 10:02 PM

Look at that. A boy in a Notre Dame hat and a girl in a Michigan hat. If McCain can get those two together, maybe he is a "uniter, not a divider."

Posted by: mjm | November 12, 2007 9:54 PM

Mr. Shear, I think you are jumping the gun.

Considering that Giuliani is Dimocrat in everything but name, the only contest should be at Election time.

Would SOMEBODY please point Rudy Giuliani to Howling Dean's Party Headquarters!

He seems lost!

Then, Tell McCain, Tancredo, and Dr. NO to get on board Romney and Thompson's Platform as Cabinet Members!

Team Up RepubliCANS! Make Billary cry!

Because believe me, She'll be Crying "Foul" in a New York Second!

Posted by: rat-the | November 12, 2007 5:12 PM

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