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Rudy's Endorsement Just a Start for McCain Team

By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN PLANE -- Sen. John McCain's (R-Fla.) campaign manager Rick Davis still speaks about Rudy Giuliani's endorsement of his boss in the future tense. But he's happy to tell reporters what it means for the senator's presidential bid.

"I don't think there's a high propensity of his support to go to McCain," Davis said. While yesterday's Florida exit polls showed the former New York mayor's backers split evenly between picking McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as their second choice, Davis said he believed the bulk of them would flock to his candidate once Giuliani endorsed him.

"Rudy's vote will probably follow Rudy," he said, adding that while they were still hoping for a nod from former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, those voters scattered once he ducked out of the race. "Fred Thompson could have endorsed us and none of his vote could have gone to us."

The campaign has been bringing in between $2 and $4 million a week from donors since the first of the month; Davis predicted Giuliani's financial backers may also now turn their attention to McCain. "It's all fresh money, so it's good news," he said.

Looking ahead to Super Tuesday, Davis cautioned that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee could inject uncertainty into the outcome by winning several Southern states. "Huckabee still seems to have some ability to win a vote," he said. "He has a more likely chance of winning February fifth states than Romney."

Winning Giuliani's endorsement wasn't hard, Davis explained: "I just answered my phone." Davis spoke to senior Giuliani aide Tony Carbonetti yesterday "when the polls were still open," and McCain followed up with a phone call to Giuliani this morning.

"I've know Tony for a long time, we're good friends," Davis said. "You don't have to say a lot."

Davis added the campaign would be eying Giuliani's camp for potential hires, since when it comes to hiring political types, "they don't find these guys on street corners."

"Winning solves a lot of problems. It solves money problems, it solves personnel problems," he said.

Even Giuliani's elaborate motorcade might be up for grabs. "He's got more cars than us," Davis observed. "Maybe he can lend us a few. I'll have to check out the [Federal Election Commission] rules on that."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 5:18 PM ET
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