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Giuliani Courts Norquist

The courtship of Grover Norquist -- the influential head of Americans for Tax Reform -- continues apace. The latest development is an exchange of letters between Norquist and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani today.

The first missive came courtesy of Giuliani who sent a note to Norquist today seeking to not only tout his tax-cutting record but contrast that record with the positions taken by some of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

"My commitment to lowering tax rates is not just a statement of intentions, like some of my opponents," writes Giuliani. "It is a reflection of fundamental economic principles that I have believed in for years."

Giuliani goes on to detail his record of fiscal conservatism while mayor of New York City, which is familiar to anyone paying even the remotest amount of attention to the campaign: 60 tax cut recommendations, 23 acctual tax cuts and so on and so on.

Norquist responded in kind within hours with a letter filled with praise for Giuliani. In it, Norquist lauds Giuliani's "tremendous record of pro-growth tax policy." He also expresses his "delight" with Giuliani's simple "yes" answer in response to Norquist's request -- during last week's CNN/You Tube debate -- that the candidates pledge to never support a tax increase as president.

"In looking at the records of all the Republican candidates, yours clearly stands out," Norquist adds. "You are the most successful tax cutter in modern New York history, and, on balance, the most successful tax cutter in the Republican field today."

Norquist's high praise is important for fiscal conservatives who look to Norquist for guidance in this (and other) elections. One of the keys to Giuliani's campaign is to convince conservatives that while he differs with them on social issues, he is right in line with their views on fiscal matters. The hope -- among Giuliani strategists -- is that voters will choose their pocketbooks over their church songbooks.

If they're right, it will mark a fundamental shift in the way Republican voters choose their presidential nominees.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Eric Pianin  |  December 3, 2007; 5:20 PM ET
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