Peter King: Rudy Giuliani strongly considering presidential run

Rep. Peter King talks to CBS News at the Capitol, May 14, 2011.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King told CBS News Tuesday that he "would not be at all surprised" if former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani entered the 2012 presidential race.

"In fact, I would say if he had to make the decision today, it would be yes," King told CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes.

King, a longtime friend of Giuliani, was elaborating on comments he made at a dinner with reporters in Washington Monday evening, where he said Giuliani is "very close to saying he's going to run." Asked when he had spoken to Giuliani about a run, King responded "several months ago."

He added, however, that he had more recently been speaking to Giuliani's close associates, who have indicated that Giuliani was serious about seeking the White House.

In his ill-fated 2008 White House run, Giuliani focused on winning the Florida primary, a strategy that failed after other candidates generated momentum in states that came earlier on the primary calendar. King said Giuliani would focus on New Hampshire if he runs in 2012, and that he would have less overhead and fewer advisers. In 2008, he said, those advisers were "preventing Rudy from being Rudy." 

"It would be a totally different campaign than last time," King said.

King said Giuliani had been talking to "key people," particularly in New Hampshire, about a possible run. He indicated that Giuliani would soon again travel to New Hampshire, where the first-in-the-nation primary is held after the Iowa caucuses.

"It was the old Rudy that cleaned up New York, it was the old Rudy that's tough, and that's what we need," King said. "We're not here to elect Mr. Personality, Mr. Congeniality, we're here to elect a tough leader, and I think Rudy Giuliani fits that bill."

King said he and Giuliani first discussed a presidential run in September or October, and that Giuliani had been "rethinking the campaign he had last time which did not work out well."

Republicans have indicated dissatisfaction with their current crop of declared and likely presidential candidates, a field that includes Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. While some have been pushing prominent Republicans like Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush to enter the race, there has been little focus on Giuliani, and it's unclear whether the former mayor has much institutional or grassroots support for a second run at the White House.

Giuliani, who became known as "America's mayor" for his response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, served in office from 1994-2001. He considered gubernatorial and Senate runs in 2010 but ultimately decided not to enter either race. He currently is partner in the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani and is active in the security consulting firm Giuliani Partners LLC.

Giuliani is not the only Republican considering a surprise presidential run. Little-known Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter told Politico Monday that he may enter the race within the next two weeks in part because Republicans are dissatisfied with the current crop of candidates.