Still flirting with another presidential run, Rudolph W. Giuliani is scheduled to make what an aide calls an “important trip” to New Hampshire aimed as much at convincing the former New York mayor to run as convincing the state’s voters that he’s the Republican with the best chance to win in 2012.
A planned two-day visit beginning Thursday is designed to showcase Giuliani’s potential strengths in the still-uncertain race for the GOP nomination. He is to meet with various Republican groups throughout the Granite State, and participate in discussions on healthcare reform, job creation and crime.
Wayne Semprini, a former state Republican Party chairman who supported Giuliani in his failed 2008 run, said voters are still up for grabs in the state with nation’s first primary, and that he believes Giuliani can wage a stronger campaign on his second try.
“He’s the best we could do if we could get him to run,” Semprini said in an interview Tuesday.
“I agree with very little if anything that the current president does. So from my standpoint, we have 10 or 12 people who would do a better job running the country,” he continued, referring to the other GOP candidates. “But we’re talking about a turnaround situation. And we need somebody who has a proven ability in a governing situation to show he can turn things around.”
In the run-up to the 2008 election, Giuliani began his campaign as a national front-runner, thanks in part to his reputation as “America’s mayor” following the 9/11 attacks.
But as the primaries neared, Giuliani’s campaign foundered. He ignored Iowa and ultimately abandoned New Hampshire, placing a risky bet on winning the Florida primary that ultimately backfired.
Despite raising millions of dollars, he dropped out of the race after winning just a single delegate.
Giuliani has since admitted that giving up on New Hampshire was a fatal mistake, and said over the last year that if he did run again, he’d focus on winning one of the first three nominating states.
This New Hampshire swing shows he’s following through.
“This is a testing-the-waters trip,” Semprini said.
He acknowledged, though, that Giuliani is still uncertain of his plans. Alicia Preston, a spokesman for Giuliani, said “he is still in deciding stage.”
Semprini planned this trip in part to help convince Giuliani that there’s support for another run. He said “feels so much better” about Giuliani’s chances this time.
“We know what the issues are, and we know who we’re up against,” he said. “We’re not wondering whether it’s going to be Hillary or Obama. We know who it is, we know how that guy governs, and we know the way Rudy Giuliani governs is almost diametrically opposed to the way Obama governs.”
Even though he hasn’t waged an active campaign in the state, Giuliani garnered 7% support in the most recent University of New Hampshire poll, ahead of established candidates such as Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich.
Mitt Romney remains the decided front-runner in the state, Semprini conceded, but “he’s just not as real a deal as Rudy Giuliani is.”
“One thing about Rudy Giuliani -- you don’t find him changing his positions. You may not agree with everything he says, but you don’t find him changing his positions,” he said.
Romney will also be in New Hampshire on Thursday, meeting with business owners and hosting a town hall meeting.