Giuliani nudges toward White House bid

WASHINGTON – Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who guided his city through the September 11 attacks, moved a step closer to running for president in 2008 when he filed an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.

Giuliani, who in recent polls led the field of likely candidates for the Republican nomination for the 2008 race, was due to make an announcement later Monday in New York.

Giuliani announced in November he was mulling a possible White House bid by setting up a committee to explore his candidacy. The new step is a technical move that places him on the same footing as his most likely rival for the nomination, Arizona Senator John McCain.

Recent opinion polls have Giuliani leading McCain with Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, in third position, for the Republican presidential nomination.

In 2000, McCain lost the nomination race to George W. Bush, who went on to defeat Democratic candidate Al Gore.

Others mentioned as possible Republican hopefuls in 2008 include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Giuliani could face an old foe if he becomes the Republican nominee in 2008, with New York Senator Hillary Clinton currently considered the favorite for the Democratic Party nomination.

The 62-year-old former mayor of the Big Apple ran against former first lady Clinton in the 2000 senate race in New York, but had to drop out when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A former Democrat with liberal views on gay rights and abortion, Giuliani has long been considered something of a political maverick who has polarized opinion both inside and outside Republican circles.

He was branded “America’s Mayor” after leading New York through the trauma of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Opinions vary on his chances of winning the Republican nomination, with some observers suggesting that his liberal leanings on social issues could alienate the more conservative party rank and file.