|11-13-2006, 11:40 PM||#1|
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Giuliani takes first step toward '08 presidential bid
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, known for his apt leadership after the attacks of September 11, 2001, took the first step toward a possible 2008 presidential bid by forming a exploratory committee.
Giuliani has not officially decided whether to run, said committee treasurer John Gross in a statement.
"We have taken the necessary legal steps so an organization can be put in place and money can be raised," Gross said. (Watch how Giuliani will be pondering a presidential run "quite a bit" -- 1:44 Video)
A document from the New York Department of State says Giuliani made the initial filing Friday.
Paperwork filed with the department says the committee's purpose is "to conduct federal 'testing-the-waters' activities under the Federal Election Campaign Act."
Giuliani, 62, joins Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, as the only Republican to form an exploratory committee.
Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa formed an exploratory committee Thursday, making him the only Democrat to do so.
Federal election law allows an individual to travel and gauge the level of support without formally declaring his or her candidacy and being subject to federal fundraising rules, according to The Associated Press.
An individual who spends money only to test the waters, rather than officially campaign for office, does not have to register as a candidate, the AP reported.
Though there is strong support for his candidacy, Giuliani would be a controversial choice for the Republicans.
His moderate views on social issues like gay rights and his opposition to banning certain types of late-term abortions are likely to draw fire from religious conservatives.
Citing those political stances and Giuliani's past opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and to an increase in the minimum wage, the Democratic National Committee released a statement questioning whether Giuliani could "just explain away" his positions on issues dear to the conservative Republican base.
"Throughout his career Giuliani has tried to paint himself as a moderate, but now that he's vying for his party's nomination will he undergo an extreme makeover in an attempt to cozy up to the far-right?" Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney asked in the statement.
A graduate of New York University Law School, Giuliani joined the U.S. attorney's office in 1970 and was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1983. Giuliani lost his first bid for New York mayor in 1989 -- to David Dinkins -- by the closest margin in city history.
In 1993, Giuliani defeated Dinkins to become the first Republican mayor in two decades. In 1997 he was re-elected by a hefty margin.
After leaving office, he opened his own consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and campaigned for Republican candidates across the nation.
In May 2000, amid a messy and public divorce, Giuliani announced he would not challenge Hillary Clinton for the open Senate seat in New York because he wanted to focus on fighting early-stage prostate cancer.
Giuliani didn't run for New York's open governorship this year or challenge Clinton in the Senate, which has fueled speculation he is considering a run for the White House in 2008.
According to a recent CNN poll, Giuliani is a favorite among Republican voters or independents who lean Republican.
The survey, conducted October 27-29 by Opinion Research Corp., indicates 29 percent of Republican voters would "most likely" support Giuliani for their party's presidential nomination in 2008. (Read the full poll results)
Runners-up included Sen. John McCain, with 27 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 12 percent. The poll of 401 Republican leaning voters had a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.
McCain's top adviser, John Weaver, said last week the Arizona senator was considering a run for the Oval Office but had no plans to set up an exploratory committee until next year.
Other names that have been mentioned for the GOP nomination include New York Gov. George Pataki, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.