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Giuliani to Outline Governing Vision

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will deliver a speech Saturday aimed at laying out a broad governing vision for the country, an address his campaign is touting as a turning point in his bid for the Republican nomination.

"This will be a closing statement of why he wants to be president," said a senior Giuliani adviser familiar with the speech. The broad goal, according to the adviser, is to define "what will America be like after a Giuliani presidency."

For much of the campaign to date, Giuliani has talked almost exclusively about his record as mayor of New York as opposed to what he would do as president. Saturday's speech will change that, his advisers argue, with a speech that will carry the tagline: "Tested. Ready. Now."

The locale and timing of the speech send a signal of their own. Giuliani will deliver the speech in Tampa, Florida, a not so subtle symbol of the importance of the state to Giuliani's path the to the nomination. The Sunshine State and its Jan. 29 presidential primary has long been seen as Giuliani's firewall as poll after poll shows him with wide leads over all of his potential rivals.

As for the timing, the Giuliani campaign believes the speech falls on perhaps on the last day before the Christmas rush begins in earnest -- wiping out the ability to firmly communicate a message to voters.

"We're three weeks away from caucuses today," said the Giuliani adviser in explaining the strategy behind the timing. "Four weeks away from New Hampshire. Florida [is] in little more than a month."

The big, bold vision that Giuliani aides argue will define this speech is something of a departure for a candidate who has largely eschewed these sorts of speeches -- choosing instead to focus on an issue here or an issue there rather than lay out his entire political philosophy.

"This guy has a vision for what he wants to accomplish," said the adviser. "He also has the experience of having done difficult things in the past [to] get big things done."

Giuliani, much more so than any of the other candidates running for the Republican nomination, has run a national campaign throughout the primary season. He has never been particularly strong in the earliest of early states and, by necessity, has focused on the de facto national primary on Feb. 5 when nearly two dozen states -- including New York, New Jersey and California -- are set to vote.

This speech should be seen within that context. A national candidate needs a national message. And, on Saturday we'll hear Giuliani's attempt to link his messaging on national security, illegal immigration and economic policy into a broad vision.

Will it work? We're still skeptical about an election strategy that depends heavily on several other candidates to succeed. (More on that in tomorrow's Line.) But, casting the nomination fight as a national choice is Giuliani's best chance at winning. He begins that sale in earnest on Saturday.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 13, 2007; 10:15 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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