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Giuliani's Pollster Says He's Still Very Much in the Race

By Michael D. Shear
Ed Goeas wants everyone to know that Rudy Giuliani is doing just fine.

With the former mayor suffering from flu symptoms so severe he spent Wednesday night in a St. Louis hospital, Goeas, Giuliani's pollster, reassured reporters Wednesday that the former New York mayor is still very much in the Republican presidential race.

That he found it necessary to do so is a testament to the situation Giuliani finds himself in, with a campaign relegated to the role of sideshow as rivals Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and John McCain battle for the next month, largely without him.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is leading Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a two-man battle for Iowa. Romney is ahead of McCain, Arizona's senior senator, in a two-man race in New Hampshire. Giuliani is nowhere to be seen in either state.

In fact, Giuliani's communication team released his post-Christmas schedule this week: He will spend the first three days after Christmas in Florida, thousands of miles away from Iowa and New Hampshire.

But in an interview Wednesday night, Goeas said all of that is beside the point.

"The game is different this year," he said. "We still like the game we're playing."

That game is a waiting one. Giuliani is waiting until the first several contests are over, hoping that no one will run away with the race until Florida holds its primary on Jan. 29.

"We did our probing in New Hampshire and we're going to continue to probe in New Hampshire," said Goeas. "We've been very clear about the fact that our strategy is Florida. The rules just don't apply. That's what people don't understand."

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal and NBC released a national poll which showed Giuliani and Romney tied at 20 percent, followed closely by Huckabee at 17. The headline on most stories about the poll used the word "plummets" in connection with Giuliani's numbers.

But Goeas dismissed the poll, saying that he prefers to pay attention to the average of the last several polls, which he said still puts Giuliani ahead by several points.

He said the former mayor is still strong in many of the states that will vote on Feb. 5, potentially giving him 40 percent of the delegates that will be needed to win the Republican nomination.

The question is whether one of his rivals picks up such a head of steam that it doesn't really matter what the polls say about Giuliani by the time Florida rolls around.

We should know the answer to that question soon.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 20, 2007; 10:46 AM ET
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