Giuliani on the attack in Florida


Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani

Republican presidential hopeful, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, greets supporters upon his arrival at the Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008.

John Raoux/The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 8:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 8:04 p.m.

THE VILLAGES, Fla. - Girding for battle as the rest of the GOP field descended upon Florida, Rudy Giuliani challenged them for the first time by name.

"Do they agree that you should have a national catastrophic fund?" he said in a Saturday tour of the Everglades. "I support it I was the first one to support it. Now let's find out where the others John McCain and Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson let's see what their position is on this."

For weeks, the former New York mayor has had this state to himself, having pulled out of the early primaries to focus time and cash on Florida's 57 delegates. While others rallied late votes in South Carolina, he attended a round table about Florida's space industry and toured the Everglades.

But it has cost Giuliani in raw delegate counts and lost news cycles to those men who did contend the six Republican primaries so far. Giuliani finally won his first delegate Saturday, in Nevada. But he is behind even long-shot Ron Paul in that department, after Paul picked up four out West.

Stretching to stay relevant, Giuliani went on the attack and called two big allies to his side.

Actor John Voight and former FBI director Louis Freeh, Giuliani's homeland security adviser and Delaware campaign chair, introduced him at a rally in the central Florida retirement community The Villages.

Both Voight and Giuliani acknowledged he'd have to win Florida to stand a chance.

"I know there is no second place," Voight said. "I know this has to happen, and Florida's got to do it. This is a very important election; it's the most important in my lifetime."

Giuliani has been challenging the other candidates to come on down, and now they will. Ten days remain before Florida's Jan. 29 primary, the longest gap between votes since the nomination process began.

"We're waiting for you," Giuliani said. "We're waiting for you with a campaign we've been working on for I think almost a year."

The Republican used one of his last chances with an undivided spotlight to ally himself with President Bush in a swipe at opponents.

"I supported the Bush tax cuts. John McCain voted with the Democrats against the Bush tax cuts and Mitt Romney was equivocal in his support," Giuliani said.

Earlier, Giuliani addressed a few hundred outside a Broward County library in South Florida, one of several early voting locations.

At the end of the rally, Giuliani started to chant: "Let's go vote! Let's go vote!"

A handful of people made their way inside, voter registration cards in hand.

In a week and a half, he'll find out if it was enough.

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