BALTIMORE — Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he is “seriously considering” a run for president in 2008. But he reiterated, as he has in many campaign-style appearances, that he was focused on the 2006 midterm elections. He said he would continue to travel the country to gauge the breadth of his support and his ability to raise the money needed for a presidential bid.
“Eventually, when you make the decision, you have to go through a kind of soul-searching about how much you think you can bring to it,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich hailed each other as fellow moderates Wednesday, and Giuliani said Ehrlich has provided the kind of leadership that states around the country need.
Speaking to reporters at a fundraiser for Ehrlich’s re-election bid, Giuliani said he has been a longtime supporter of Ehrlich and admires his commitment to fiscal discipline.
“This is the kind of governor we need throughout the country,” Giuliani said. “There are a lot of states that need this kind of leadership.”
Without specifically addressing Giuliani’s presidential ambitions, Ehrlich said the former mayor would be a very strong candidate if he were ever on the ballot in Maryland.
“Philosophically, his views are in the mainstream of where Maryland is,” Ehrlich said. “Clearly, there’s a lot of compatibility with my views on a variety of issues.”
With supporters paying $4,000 a ticket, Wednesday’s reception at a downtown Baltimore hotel collected at least $500,000 for Ehrlich’s campaign. Donors posed for pictures with Giuliani and the governor.
The event capped a three-day fundraising blitz that also brought Giuliani to Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
He’s following a path typically trod by potential candidates, who often campaign for their party’s nominees or make appearances in states critical to a presidential bid. Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio are considered key battleground states in 2008.
In Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, Ehrlich is running what appears to be a tight race against Democrat Martin O’Malley, the popular mayor of Baltimore.
Ehrlich and Giuliani disputed a claim by O’Malley’s campaign spokesman that they took different positions on Dubai’s aborted bid to run six U.S. ports, including Baltimore’s. Both said they thought the deal had the potential to make U.S. ports safer, but that it was handled the wrong way politically by the Bush administration.
Giuliani needled the mayor for bringing up the Dubai ports deal.
“I think that’s been over for about six months now,” Giuliani said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “I would think for the people of Maryland, what you can do about your schools, what you can do about the kind of crime that’s in Baltimore, I would think that maybe a little more focus on that might help.”
Giuliani is notable for breaking with GOP orthodoxy on many issues, including abortion rights and gay rights, both of which he supports. Ehrlich also has positioned himself as a moderate on such issues, bolstering his efforts to court Democrats much as Giuliani did in New York.
“You can’t get elected in New York City nor in Maryland without doing that,” said Bo Harmon, Ehrlich’s campaign manager.
Giuliani acknowledged that in a presidential bid, he would have to rally supporters in states where voters have more conservative leanings. He believes, though, that he could have a broad appeal.
“Sure, there are divisions between red states and blue states, but Americans are more similar than they are different,” Giuliani said.