Giuliani Waits To Face Rivals Before Striking

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

ABOARD THE CAMPAIGN BUS, FLORIDA -- Rudy Giuliani's chief strategist Brent Seaborn says despite a refusal to attack fellow Republican candidates, we could see a more politically aggressive side of the mayor when his rivals join him in Florida.

"When the time is right, Rudy will fight for this as hard as anybody," said Seaborn, who did not use the words "negative" or "attacks" to describe any future strategy.

"I don't think anybody else has quite the fighting or boxing training that Rudy has and I think you'll see come out when it's time to take the gloves off and roll up his sleeves and fight for Florida too."

While Giuliani drives his message on terrorism and fiscal conservatism without challenge in Florida, he still insists on following Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment" -- to never go after a Republican unless defending his own record.

When he is asked by voters to distinguish himself from John McCain, he answers by pointing to his record of leadership and executive experience, saying he'd make a "better president."

But while the former mayor takes the high road, candidates like John McCain and Mike Huckabee have freely gone after their opponents' records and are sharing more national spotlight and hotter poll numbers.

So with two weeks until Florida's primary, when is Giuliani going to throw a punch?

"There's fifteen days left, there's also two other contests between now and then," responds Seaborn. "So, we'll see when the circus comes to town -- we'll see what its like. I don't think some of the negative campaigning we've seen in the race has worked as well…as candidates at least have wanted it to."

"Rudy is as tough a campaigner as anyone in this race," says Seaborn. "When the time is right we'll see him decide to draw more of a contrast between John McCain and frankly any other opponents who come into this state."

Despite Giuliani not being a part of any political infighting amongst GOP hopefuls for weeks, Seaborn feels his candidate has overall benefited from staying out of the mud.

"For the most part, we've been in the fortunate position that a lot of attacks haven't been directed our way, it also means we've been out of some of the press cycles. But given the opposite, I guess, we could be in a lot of the national press stories with a lot of attacks by our opponents."

"But I think we're happy about not being attacked. So far, the mayor feels like the field has been pretty civil toward him -- I think he respects that and would like to keep it as civil for as long as possible."

With only 15 days to go, it appears the starting gun could fire as soon as South Carolina, the final primary before Florida, announces their winner.

"By the time we get done with South Carolina," Seaborn explains, "We're going to be looking at a reasonably or a lot more aggressive race and maybe a broad stroke of rhetoric coming out of South Carolina."
  • Ryan Corsaro

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