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Giuliani's still not a candidate, but he sounds like one

The Republican and former New York mayor makes his fourth trip to New Hampshire this year, touting his economic record while assailing President Obama's.

July 14, 2011|By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times
  • Republican and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has said he's surveying the field and will make a decision before fall on whether to enter the 2012 presidential race.
Republican and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has said he's… (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Manchester, N.H. — Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has been coy about whether he'll jump into the 2012 presidential contest. With one failed race behind him, he has cautiously insisted that he is surveying the field and will make a decision on whether to enter by summer's end.

That has relegated him to the category of would-be candidates like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, whose publicity stunts have raised questions about whether they were engaged in self-promotion more than soul-searching about their candidacies. But as Giuliani stepped out Thursday for his fourth trip to New Hampshire this year, he sounded as much like a candidate as any of the other Republicans already in the race.

From a luncheon engagement before an audience of Republican women on the coast to a 2nd Amendment discussion with bikers at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Manchester, Giuliani repeatedly assailed President Obama's agenda — calling him "a very nice man" before going on to declare that another four years of his economic policies would be "a disaster."

In remarks that sounded strikingly like a campaign speech, Giuliani kept a tight focus on the economy, framing his experience running New York between 1994 and 2001 as proof he could handle the nation's ills. He recalled that when he ran for mayor as a Republican in a Democratic city, his pitch was: "You cannot do any worse."

"I think we are pretty much in that same situation," he told about 100 guests at the Seacoast Republican Women's luncheon in Hampton.

Speaking to reporters before his speech, Giuliani said the 2012 presidential primary season had developed slowly and that there was still time to "assess the situation."

During his failed 2008 presidential bid, Giuliani, who became known as "America's mayor" when he presided over the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, focused heavily on national security issues. But when asked whether he believed there was a niche in the 2012 field for a candidate with a background in counter-terrorism issues, he quickly pivoted to his economic record in New York. The 2012 election, he said, would be won by the candidate with "the best ideas about how to straighten out the economy."

"If I had a place, it would be the fact that I did that for New York City," he said in Hampton. "I took over a city that was in comparatively horrible economic condition" — with a $2.5-billion deficit, 10.5% unemployment and 1.1 million people on welfare.

"By the time I left we had only 500,000 people on welfare; our unemployment was 5% and we had 500,000 new jobs, and I think the policies I put into effect helped to revive the economy of New York City," he continued. "This president has had the worst record of any American president in my lifetime for dealing with the economy."

At several stops Thursday he was asked about his presidential flop in 2008. In Hampton, when asked whether he would do things differently in 2012, Giuliani laughed: "Yeah — I'd try to win."

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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