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Pure Horserace: Rudy Targets Hillary

MoveOn.org's full-page ad in the New York Times earlier this week stirred a lot of largely temporary Republican backlash, but one presidential campaign is looking to keep the issue alive. The progressive, anti-war group angered many when their ad criticized the surge in Iraq and its leader, Gen. David Petraeus, with the line, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" The ad ran on the day Petraeus began his much-anticipated briefing of Congress on progress in Iraq.

The outrage the ad caused among Republicans was exacerbated by revelations that the newspaper charged what Giuliani characterized as a "discount rate" for the ad. The Times responded that the rate was not tied to the ad's content and said it fit into its normal business practices.

Today's New York Times carries a full-page ad from the Giuliani campaign (reportedly purchased at the same price) rebutting the MoveOn ad - or, more accurately, attacking Hillary Clinton. The ad uses a line from Clinton's Senate questioning of Petraeus in an attempt tie the New York senator to MoveOn. Clinton said the general's report required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

The tag line in Giuliani's ad reads, "who should America listen to … A decorated soldier's commitment to defending America, or Hillary Clinton's commitment to defending MoveOn.org?"

CBS News' Ryan Corsaro has been traveling with Giuliani and reports that the former New York City mayor appeared on two 24-hour cable news channels last night, reiterating his outrage over the MoveOn ad and Clinton's comments. Giuliani repeated that he thought her comments were "venomous" and that "she has a lot of nerve."

It seems that in the speeches and statements he's made in the past week he is zeroing in on Clinton. Since last Thursday he has only briefly mentioned Barack Obama and John Edwards while chipping away at Clinton on several issues at each of his campaign stops.

And Giuliani is not above drawing some rough conclusions. In discussing the Democratic candidates' approach to health care in Florida recently, he said, "John Edwards wants to give us his version of 'Hillary-care'. He says he will do it and it will cost you money. … Hillary says she can do it and it will save you money." When the audience booed along with the statement, Giuliani added laughingly, "You don't believe that? Are you suggesting she wouldn't say the truth?"

He then went on to note, "I have to defend her. We're both Yankee fans. I grew up as a Yankee fan in New York. She became a Yankee fan growing up in Chicago," said as the audience burst into laughter. "If you believe that, you'll vote for her."

As a socially moderate Republican, it seems that Giuliani has seized upon some red meat he can throw out to just about any conservative audience.
--Vaughn Ververs and Ryan Corsaro

Florida Gives Thompson A Sunny Reception: CBS News' John Bentley has been traveling with Fred Thompson and files this report from the campaign's first swing through Florida:

The largest crowd to turn out so far on Thompson's presidential campaign came Thursday at The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida. Over 700 people turned out in the sweltering heat to hear Thompson on his first campaign swing through the state. "He's very personable," said Christina Wardell, 56. "I agree with a lot of the things he'd like to accomplish if he were the president."

While Thompson has talked in general terms about what he wants to accomplish, he has yet to offer many specific policy ideas. His stump speech always includes a strong defense of federalism, a desire to overhaul Social Security, and words on maintaining a strong national defense. "I have concluded that the average 20-year-old serving us in Iraq knows more about their country's national security needs than the average 20-year political veteran serving in the Congress of the United States," Thompson said.

Lines like that garnered applause from the crowd, but Wardell wasn't ready to cast her vote just yet. "He's so new in this race, I don't really know if I'd vote for him or not," she said.

She's not the only one. After announcing his candidacy just over a week ago, Thompson is running second to Rudy Giuliani in most Florida polls. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll of the state has Thompson at 17%, with Giuliani at 28%. But as a Florida-based Thompson advisor points out, his competition has had a head start. "Rudy and Romney have been here for a year," he said. "Everyone said we were too late organizationally, the opportunity to get in and get organized is gone, but if you look at the caliber of folks that are going to be rolled out, it's not going to be a challenge for us to reach out and pull together an organization."

A morning event in Jacksonville swayed at least voter. "He'd be the front runner for me," said Lee Stine, 34, one of about 200 people to take in Thompson's event at a shopping mall. But he wasn't sure how well he would do against the other Republican candidates. "Florida is pretty wide open," he said.

You wouldn't know it by the friendly crowd Thompson attracted in the town of Celebration. Approximately 250 people packed into a small clubhouse in this Disney-planned community to see if Thompson could separate himself from the pack of the other Republican candidates. "I thought the field this year was very slim," said Larry Pumphrey, 64. But this evening's rally helped him make a decision. "He's a Southern individual," he said. "I feel that he's going to unite people in the state of Florida as far as the Republicans go."
--John Bentley

New Joe-mentum? Joe Biden is making a little headway in Iowa, at least in the endorsement category. The state's House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, yesterday threw his support to the Delaware senator on the steps of the state capitol.

McCarthy praised Biden's foreign policy credentials and said he sensed some growing momentum for the campaign in Iowa. "I sense movement. I sense energy," McCarthy said, according to the Des Moines Register. "When you have Iraq as the No. 1 issue and a candidate that is the most competent on that issue, things are going to move."

Most interestingly, McCarthy used a line that the campaign has been using more and more when it comes to a touchy subject for them - the perception that Biden may be in this campaign more as an audition for a Secretary of State appointment than to win. McCarthy subtly took aim at that, saying, "Given that Iraq is the No. 1 issue facing this country, wouldn't it be nice to have a president smarter than our secretary of state?" Expect to hear that line a lot more from Biden's campaign.
--Vaughn Ververs

Life In The Bubble: CBS News' Joy Lin recently traveled to Iowa with Bill Richardson and files this report:

Yesterday, in a crowded, smoke-filled Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Sioux City, IA, Richardson talked to the assembled veterans about Iraq.

DNC member Frank LaMeer introduced Richardson, his voice breaking while talking about a brother who never returned from Vietnam. LaMeer reflected on the venue and how the country rested on the shoulders of men who fought for the country. He went on to emphasize that Richardson was the only candidate to show up to talk to Native Americans three weeks ago.

The crowd numbered around 80, and people stood in the back of the room. Before engaging the topic of Iraq, Richardson spoke about VA benefits and his plan for a hero's card. He mentioned the briefing with Petraeus and said he thought the general was doing a great job but that the policy was flawed.

During the question and answer session that followed, Richardson fielded a question about whether President Bush was listening on Iraq. Richardson responded by talked about his own experience in Congress, where staff told him how great he was -- "I even had people telling me how skinny I was (laughter)... It's not that funny (more laughter)." Richardson then went on to talk about the "arrogance of power" and the inherent dangers of surrounding yourself with "yes" men in a bubble.
--Joy Lin
By Vaughn Ververs, Ryan Corsaro, John Bentley and Joy Lin

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