Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oh-eight (R): The GOP no-shows

Oh-eight (R): The GOP no-shows

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:07 AM by Domenico Montanaro
Categories: ,

We've gotten some chatter from some GOP party leaders who were in attendance at last night's RNC fundraiser wondering why all the presidentials blew it off. One activist said if Romney had not stayed, it would have been a PR and "psychological" disaster. NBC/NJ's Erin McPike reports: In the same week that the GOP’s four first-tier presidential candidates tried to best each other with their Republican credentials, only Mitt Romney addressed the Republican National Committee’s “Presidential Trust” dinner at the National Building Museum Tuesday night.

RNC spokesman Dan Ronayne said the event was new for the party and called it “a chance for our donors to see all the candidates.” Those 710 donors, each of whom contributed at least $1,000, helped raise $5 million for the party. But the only two candidates they saw were Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said after the event, “Showing up is half the job. Gov. Romney was grateful for the opportunity to address all the Republican activists who are helping to build the party.”

Although Ronayne said that all of the party’s candidates were invited, the RNC’s program had included five, with Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain slated to join Romney and Paul. Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella explained via e-mail after the event that Giuliani “was not originally scheduled to speak at the dinner” and added that “the RNC incorrectly advised it.” No warnings were issued concerning Thompson’s appearance, but he also failed to address the dinner crowd. After the event, a representative from Thompson’s campaign stated that as the schedule of the event changed, Thompson was happy to speak at the reception prior to the dinner instead.

The Washington Post looks at the scores of Bush '04 donors who are sitting on the sidelines. "For months, Republicans have worried about the lack of energy displayed by their loyalists and donors, especially when compared with the enthusiasm of Democrats. Polls consistently show Democrats to be far more excited about their candidates than Republicans are with theirs.”

Also of note, the New York Times looks at the differences between the GOP candidates on global warming. "It is a near-unanimous recognition among the leaders of the threat posed by global warming. Within that camp, however, sharp divisions are developing. Senator John McCain of Arizona is calling for capping gas emissions linked to warming and higher fuel economy standards. Others, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are refraining from advocating such limits and are instead emphasizing a push toward clean coal and other alternative energy sources.”

GIUILIANI: Per NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann, if it weren't for the newsy change of date, the big news of the day would be that Rudy Giuliani will be campaigning in the state -- for one day only! -- for the first time since mid-August. Mitt Romney is also in the eastern part of the state for the first time since the Q3 rush.

Before he leaves for Iowa today, Giuliani receives his first endorsement from a sitting governor. Texas' ambitious Republican Gov. Rick Perry (can someone say short list?) will sign up with Giuliani just before the mayor speaks before a fairly friendly Club for Growth audience.

As for yesterday, Giuliani’s getting good reviews for his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition. Jennifer Rubin notes, "the highlight of [Rudy's] speech was his recounting of his eviction of Yasser Arafat from Lincoln Center. With a jab at Mitt Romney, he remarked that he did not have time to ‘call the lawyers’ and see if on one hand he could stay, on the other he couldn’t or perhaps he could be moved to higher seating. Giuliani said bluntly: ‘I just made a decision. I am a leader.’” More: “This was the ‘A’ game from Giuliani -- funny, pugnacious and crystal clear about who the good and bad guys in the world are."

The New York Sun calls Giuliani the "emotional winner" at the Jewish forum. But Maureen Dowd wasn’t as impressed. Her op-ed of Giuliani’s appearance yesterday is “Rudy Roughs Up Arabs.”

Dowd also notes Giuliani saying this about Hillary Clinton’s experience: “‘Honestly, in most respects, I don’t know Hillary’s experience. She’s never run a city. She’s never run a state. She’s never run a business. She has never met a payroll. She has never been responsible for the safety and security of millions of people, much less even hundreds of people.’”

The Wall Street Journal has a smart piece noting that it's Giuliani's foreign policy stands that's allowing him to connect "with social and religious conservatives, constituencies where the former New York City mayor's support has been seen as weakest."

MCCAIN: He kept at it yesterday, citing his credibility on military issues and Iraq. “’You've got people running for President who haven't even been to it,’” McCain said of Iraq” per the New York Daily News.

Perry backing Giuliani disappoints conservatives


By SUZANNE GAMBOA / Associated Press

Conservatives and gun rights advocates in Texas said they are disappointed and mystified by Gov. Rick Perry's endorsement Wednesday of GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

Perry endorsed Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, at an economic conference of the Club For Growth, a conservative advocacy group. Unlike Perry, Giuliani has favored abortion rights and gun control.

"When I go to buy a pickup truck, if it's got one option on it that I'm not either particularly fond of or not looking for, doesn't mean I discard that pickup truck. I'm looking at the results and I think that's what Americans will coalesce. They'll look for the results," Perry said.

The Texas governor, who accompanied Giuliani on a campaign trip to Iowa later in the day, said, "Mayor Giuliani is not the enemy. Rudy Giuliani is a culture warrior."

Perry is the first major-state governor to endorse Giuliani. His endorsement comes just in time for a three-day "values voter summit" that begins Thursday by the Family Research Council, a religious conservative group. Giuliani and other GOP candidates plan to attend.

Perry was also to attend two later town-hall style meetings in Iowa, appearances apparently aimed at reassuring conservatives who might be leery of Giuliani because of his support of abortion rights and past stands on gay rights and gun control.

Perry's endorsement of Giuliani is a letdown for many Texas social conservatives and gun groups, who have considered Perry a reliable ally on opposing abortion and embryonic stem cell research and defending gun ownership rights.

Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, said Perry called her Tuesday to tell her of his planned endorsement. She said she urged him to wait.

She said she was baffled by the endorsement.

"I reminded Gov. Perry we worked so hard in Texas to pass legislation .... and those efforts will be stifled on the federal level by a pro-choice president," Graham said.

Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is a chairman of rival Fred Thompson's Texas campaign, said he was confused by Perry's endorsement.

"One of the most, if not the most, conservative governors in Texas history endorses a pro-choice, rabidly anti-Second Amendment former New York mayor, who as mayor endorsed the Democrat Mario Cuomo over the Republican George Pataki for governor of New York?

"What happened to conservative principles as the first measure of who to support for any office?," Patterson said in an e-mail.

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, said Perry has put his supporters in a quandary. She said Giuliani shouldn't assume Perry's endorsement brings with it conservative backing.

"Just because Gov. Perry supports Giuliani doesn't mean we are going to follow him off a cliff and that's how I see it, off a cliff," Adams said.

Perry suggested he expects most of the decision-making on abortion and other issues to come from the Supreme Court.

He said he asked Giuliani "what type of individual can I expect on the Supreme Court? He said, 'You can look for people like (Justices Antonin) Scalia, (John) Roberts and (Samuel) Alito.' Well let me tell you, I can live with that," Perry said.

But Graham said Perry not only nominated anti-abortion judges, but his policy advisers and many people in charge of state agencies also have anti-abortion views. She said her group does not trust Giuliani to do the same.

"I think there are moderate Republicans or pro-choice Republicans in any circle and I think fear of (Democratic candidate) Hillary (Clinton) has spooked moderate Republicans into supporting Rudy and into thinking that a true blue conservative, a Republican, can't beat Hillary. I think that's a false assumption," Graham said.

Christian conservatives have long been influential in the Republican Party. But they've been unhappy with the 2008 GOP presidential candidates.

Perry, now in his second full term, is seen in some circles as a possible vice presidential nominee. But for that he would have to overcome voters' "Texas fatigue" from President Bush's administration.

Perry has insisted he's not interested in going to Washington, but he hasn't ruled out accepting an offer to be a running mate.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Perry likely assumes he can win back conservatives who disagree with his endorsement. "This is an attempt to create options for his career," Jillson said.

He said Perry is "burned out in Texas politics." Perry won re-election with 39 percent of the vote and had a sometimes rocky legislative session this year.

Giuliani has collected about $4.8 million from Texas for his campaign, more than any other presidential candidate. He is helped in part by his role as a name partner in the Houston-based law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which has a healthy list of energy-giant clients.

Perry seemed to want some stealth for his endorsement.

Although the Club For Growth issued a news release announcing Giuliani would receive a major endorsement, Perry's office did not issue any media releases until just before the event.

Perry refused to stop to answer questions and relied on security and others to block a reporter trying to ask questions. When the reporter shouted the questions at Perry, the aides grabbed the reporter and threatened her with jail.

A Perry spokesman didn't immediatly respond to a question about the incident, but said his office would comment later.

Associated Press Writer Kelley Shannon contributed to this report from Austin, Texas.

Obama and Cheney discover hidden family ties

Barack Obama

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Obama and Cheney discover hidden family ties

WASHINGTON (AFP) — They are political polar opposites, but for Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, hidden family ties run deep, as they are distant cousins.

The vice president's wife Lynne Cheney told MSNBC that she had uncovered the bizarre political twist while researching her new book, a memoir of growing up in the western state of Wyoming.

"Dick and Barack Obama are eighth cousins ... isn't that an amazing thing?" Cheney said in the interview.

"If you go back eight generations they have a common ancestor," Cheney said, adding they were both descended from a man that moved out west from Maryland.

"This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor ... could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths as Dick's and Barack Obama."

Obama's spokesman Bill Burton offered a tongue in cheek reply.

"Every family has its black sheep," he told AFP.

Obama often highlights his rich multicultural family heritage on the campaign trail -- his father was from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas.

Clinton Eclipses Obama, Giuliani, Romney in Wall Street Money

Clinton Eclipses Obama, Giuliani, Romney in Wall Street Money

By Kristin Jensen and Julianna Goldman

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Hillary Clinton raised more money on Wall Street last quarter than Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney combined.

Clinton beat Democratic presidential rival Obama in donations from employees of the top 10 underwriters of U.S. stock offerings, a reversal from previous quarters. The New York senator brought in $748,896 from the firms in July through September, compared with $177,456 for Obama, an Illinois senator.

The former first lady ran even further ahead of top Republicans, led by Giuliani, who brought in $149,925, and Romney, who raised $133,875, federal regulatory filings show.

Clinton's lead in public opinion polls and disciplined campaign is persuading Wall Street to invest in her, said Rogan Kersh, associate dean of New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. ``The reason they call it the smart money is because in the end they bet on the horse that wins,'' Kersh said.

Because of Clinton's strong fundraising, she and Obama widened their advantage in Wall Street cash, bringing in three times as much as the top two Republicans. In the second quarter, she and Obama raised almost twice as much as the top two Republicans -- Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain.

Campaign Performance

Clinton supporters say raising money became easier in recent months as she showed she can run a largely mistake-free campaign. Her debate performances and surge in the polls also helped, they said.

``The way she's campaigned has encouraged those who were on the sidelines to come forward and to make the commitment,'' said Clinton fundraiser Blair Effron, 45, co-founder of the New York financial advisory firm Centerview Partners and a former vice chairman at Zurich-based UBS AG, Europe's biggest bank.

Clinton's biggest third-quarter take came from Morgan Stanley, the world's second-largest securities firm. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Mack held an event for Clinton, 59, in July, helping bring her total donations from employees of the New York-based company to $210,970 in the quarter. Mack, 62, declined to comment yesterday through a spokeswoman.

The figures are based on employers listed by donors in reports filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission this week; in some cases, the names are missing or incomplete.


Once again during the quarter, the Democratic candidates as a group beat Republicans on Wall Street, bringing in $1.03 million from the top 10 stock underwriters compared with $437,442 for the Republicans.

Other Republicans were well behind Giuliani, the former New York mayor, and Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and founder of the Boston-based investment firm Bain Capital LLC. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who joined the race last month, raised $81,950; McCain got $55,102.

Clinton's and Obama's take on Wall Street represents a switch from the second quarter, when Obama, 46, raised $739,579 and Clinton followed with $424,545. The top Republican recipients, Giuliani, 63, and McCain, 71, each received a little more than $330,000 from the same group of top banks in that quarter.

``You're seeing a market correction,'' said Dan Gerstein, an independent Democratic strategist based in New York. ``The promise of Obama was sort of like the tech start-up that got people very excited early on, but he really hasn't delivered the steak with the sizzle.''

Overall, Clinton raised $23.7 million for the primary elections in the third quarter; Obama brought in $20 million.


Obama's campaign focused on his support among a wider group of donors. For the year, he has received donations from 365,000 different people, his campaign said. The Clinton campaign has only released donors for two of its three quarters, for a total topping 160,000.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton yesterday pointed to grassroots support and said ``the smart money out there is on changing our country.''

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said that while Wall Street ``behaves like a futures market,'' Obama still has a good shot at the nomination. ``Barack's future is going to be determined not on Wall Street, but on Main Street -- in small towns all across Iowa and New Hampshire and if he wins there, Wall Street doesn't matter,'' said McMahon, who isn't aligned with any campaign.

Private Equity

Employees at the top 10 hedge funds and private-equity firms, whose tax rates are under assault from lawmakers including Obama and Clinton, didn't give nearly as much to White House hopefuls. The leader in both groups was Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a Democratic presidential candidate who is also chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Dodd, 63, took in $78,900 from the top 10 private-equity companies and top 10 hedge funds, compared with $50,573 for Clinton, the only rival to come close. The top Republican to raise money from private-equity firms was Romney, 60, with $13,500.

Dodd's Senate job also helped him raise more from top banks than former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, 54, who ranks third in national polls of Democratic presidential candidates. Edwards collected just $23,625 from the banks in the third quarter, compared with $54,150 for Dodd.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kristin Jensen in Washington at ; Julianna Goldman in Washington at

Last Updated: October 17, 2007 00:03 EDT

Giuliani, Clinton Lead in Tri-State Area

Giuliani, Clinton Lead in Tri-State Area

THE RACE: The presidential primary for Republicans, Democrats in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.



Rudy Giuliani, 45 percent

Fred Thompson, 12 percent

John McCain, 9 percent

Mitt Romney, 7 percent

Mike Huckabee, 1 percent

Ron Paul, 1 percent


Rudy Giuliani, 48 percent

Fred Thompson, 12 percent

John McCain, 12 percent

Mitt Romney, 7 percent

Ron Paul, 2 percent

Sam Brownback, 1 percent

Mike Huckabee, 1 percent

Tom Tancredo, 1 percent


Rudy Giuliani, 42 percent

John McCain, 14 percent

Fred Thompson, 10 percent

Mitt Romney, 9 percent

Ron Paul, 3 percent

Mike Huckabee, 2 percent




Hillary Rodham Clinton, 49 percent

Barack Obama, 12 percent

John Edwards, 11 percent

Joe Biden, 2 percent

Dennis Kucinich, 2 percent

Bill Richardson, 2 percent

Chris Dodd, 1 percent


Hillary Rodham Clinton, 46 percent

Barack Obama, 20 percent

John Edwards, 9 percent

Bill Richardson, 3 percent

Joe Biden, 2 percent

Dennis Kucinich, 2 percent

Chris Dodd, 1 percent


Hillary Rodham Clinton, 43 percent

Barack Obama, 16 percent

John Edwards, 8 percent

Chris Dodd, 7 percent

Joe Biden, 3 percent

Bill Richardson, 2 percent

Dennis Kucinich, 1 percent



New Yorkers Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton hold commanding leads on their home turf and could sweep presidential primaries in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Feb. 5. With the Republicans' winner-take-all primary rules, Giuliani could win all 183 tri-state delegates, giving him 15 percent of the 1,228 he needs to secure the nomination. Because Democrats allocate primary votes proportionally, Barack Obama and John Edwards could win some tri-state delegates, but Clinton could win more than 250 of the 2,181 she'd need for the Democratic nomination.


The telephone poll, taken Oct. 9-15 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, surveyed 1,063 New York voters with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The survey included 316 New York Republicans with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points and 468 Democrats with an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. In New Jersey, 1,004 voters were surveyed with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The survey included 301 Republicans, with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, and 343 Democrats, at plus or minus 5.5 percentage points. In Connecticut, 1,391 voters were polled with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, including 325 Republicans, at plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, and 530 Democrats, at plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.


Texas Governor Endorses Giuliani

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday won the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, despite their differences on abortion rights.

Perry, an abortion opponent, said his biggest concern had been Giuliani's support for abortion rights but that he was satisfied Giuliani would appoint judges who view the issue conservatively.

"The one (issue) that I wanted to hear him give me an answer and look me right in my eyes was that issue of who can I expect, what type of individual can I expect on the Supreme Court," Perry said at a news conference with Giuliani.

"He clearly said ... you can look for people like Scalia and Roberts and Alito. Let me tell you, I can live with that," Perry said, referring to conservative Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Perry said when he buys a pickup truck, he doesn't rule it out simply because it has one option he doesn't like.

Giuliani, who is addressing social conservative voters this weekend in Washington, said he wants conservatives to focus on areas where he agrees with them.

"I'm not going to get every vote," he said. "The idea is going to be that there's enough we agree about and enough we're facing — foreign threats and domestic problems — that it may just be if they think about it, that I'm the best candidate."

"What I really want is a relationship in which we respect each other, even if we disagree," Giuliani said.

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Giuliani Connects With 'Morals' Voters on Security

Hard-Line Stances
Play Well With Base
Of Republican Party
October 17, 2007; Page A9

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani is finding that tough foreign-policy stands are helping him connect with social and religious conservatives, constituencies where the former New York City mayor's support has been seen as weakest.

Those conservatives, a bedrock of the party's base in recent elections, are unhappy with Mr. Giuliani's positions in support of abortion and gay rights, as well as his two divorces. But Mr. Giuliani's positioning himself as a tough leader in the fight against Islamist extremism and threats from Iran, and his staunch support for Israel, have kept many social conservatives in his corner despite their misgivings about his stands on domestic issues.

"I think that a lot of evangelical voters see abortion as a moral issue, but a lot of them also see defending Western civilization against this enemy as a moral issue," says Gary Bauer, a religious-conservative activist and 2000 Republican presidential hopeful. "Where the jury is out is once the voters understand where [Giuliani] is on both of those things, will the war still trump those social issues?"

Strong backing of Israel, in particular, is important to some religious conservatives, who have developed their own close bonds to the Jewish state and its oversight of Biblical lands.

This support was on display yesterday, when the candidate told a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering here that as president he would be deeply suspicious of land-for-peace talks with the Palestinians. He said neither Americans nor Israelis should negotiate with militant Islamic leaders and organizations that he believes are committed to destroying Western society.

He drew applause while recounting a 1995 episode when he ordered that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat be ejected from a concert for world leaders at Lincoln Center. "The reason I did it was that I knew from my own investigations of Arafat that he was a murderer and a terrorist," Mr. Giuliani said. "This whole idea of holding him on a morally equivalent plane to the prime minister of Israel...was a terrible, terrible mistake."

Recent polls suggest that Mr. Giuliani's hard-line positions are helping him make inroads with social and religious conservatives. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted late last month found that 39% of people who identified themselves as evangelical Christians had a "somewhat positive" impression of Mr. Giuliani.

Republican candidate Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who has campaigned as a Reagan-style conservative, registered a "very positive" impression among 26% of evangelicals. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith has raised concerns among some conservative Christian voters, made a "somewhat positive" impression with 31% of those evangelicals polled.

Mr. Giuliani may be playing a risky political game by identifying so closely with the personalities and policies promoted by President Bush's administration. Polls show that the American population is increasingly disillusioned with the war in Iraq and that there is little support for a military strike against Iran. Mr. Giuliani's hard-line stance may succeed in helping him shore up support from the Republican base, but, if he is nominated, could undermine his prospects during the general election, analysts say.

"Surrounding yourself with these neoconservative voices isn't sustainable," said Steven Clemons, of the New America Foundation, a centrist Washington-based policy institution.

The former mayor has taken perhaps the hardest line among the presidential candidates on Iran. He has repeatedly stated his willingness to use military force to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And he has described Iran's leadership as an irrational force with whom negotiations are probably hopeless.


"We need to isolate the terror-funding theocrats" in Tehran, Mr. Giuliani told the Republican Jewish Coalition. "You have to stand up to dictators, to tyrants and to terrorists" as "weakness invites attack."

Despite the Bush administration's troubles in Iraq, Mr. Giuliani's campaign is recruiting from neoconservative think tanks and publications that lobbied the White House to launch the 2003 invasion. Mr. Giuliani has courted them as allies in the fight against Islamist extremism, say his aides.

Last week, Mr. Giuliani's team named David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, as a senior foreign-policy adviser. Mr. Frum helped coin the phrase "axis of evil" in describing the governments of Iran, Iraq and North Korea during President Bush's 2002 State of the Union speech.

Mr. Giuliani will seek to woo more conservative Christian voters when he speaks Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, along with other major Republican candidates.

--Michael M. Phillips contributed to this article.

Write to Jay Solomon at

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Was McCain too nice to Lynch?

by Sarah Liebowitz
Monitor staff

October 17. 2007 12:40AM

irst, Mitt Romney was sparring with Rudy Giuliani about taxes and spending in New Hampshire. This week, Romney is in a tiff with John McCain about, of all things, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch.

Lynch made an appearance last weekend at a McCain campaign stop in Hopkinton, the governor's hometown, and the two men said nice things about each other.

"Thank you for most of all the way that you have governed the state, in a bipartisan fashion," McCain told Lynch.

Lynch returned the favor. "I have enormous respect and admiration for Sen. McCain and all he's done for all of us all over the country if not all over the world," the governor said.

The Romney campaign seized on the Lynch-friendly remarks - which came a day after McCain said some not-so-friendly things about Romney - to question McCain's conservative bona fides.

Only John McCain would criticize a fellow Republican one day and then campaign with a Democrat the next," Jim Merrill, Romney's state director, said in a statement. "At a town hall meeting yesterday, McCain stood alongside the Democrat governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, and said 'America needs more of what you've done here in the State of New Hampshire.' "

McCain campaign chairman Peter Spaulding retorted that his candidate learned the value of bipartisanship from Ronald Reagan.

"Obviously, Mitt Romney never learned that lesson because he admitted he was never part of the Reagan Revolution, going so far as to reject the Reagan legacy and run to the left of Ted Kennedy," Spaulding said. "It is beyond the pale that Mitt Romney would attack a fellow Republican for showing common decency and respect for the sitting governor of the state in which he is campaigning."

It's hard to say if McCain or Romney got the best of this one. An anti-Lynch message is a hard sell in this state, but it might work with the hard-core conservatives Romney is counting on as a primary constituency. But if McCain can persuade independents to take Republican ballots, a nonpartisan, pro-Lynch message certainly can't hurt.

Giuliani may have the most to gain from this particular slugfest, as two candidates who hope for breakout moments in New Hampshire tear each other up.

McCain attacks Bush policy

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John McCain drew sharp distinctions between himself and President Bush in an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The U.S. senator from Arizona, whose campaign is lagging, was among five Republicans addressing the RJC presidential forum on Tuesday.

His sharply critical rhetoric was a departure from the earlier part of his campaign, when he refrained from criticizing Bush administration policy. The strategy of backing an unpopular president as well as mismanagement nearly derailed McCain's campaign in the spring, although he has recovered somewhat.

McCain was especially critical of Bush's policy in Iraq, although he said the current "surge" policy adding troops on the ground is garnering results. He claimed some credit for the surge strategy, noting that when he started calling for additional troops in 2004, "I was criticized by Republicans because of my disloyalty."

McCain also implied another sharp rebuke to Bush, saying he did not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin when it came to seeking international assistance in isolating Iran until it ends its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"I looked into Putin's eyes and I saw three letters – a K, a G and a B," he said, referring to Putin's earlier career as a spy. Bush once famously said he looked into Putin's eyes and saw a good soul, and McCain's jibe drew scattered applause and some murmurs among a crowd that is fiercely loyal to Bush.

McCain said winning in Iraq was critical not just for U.S. interets but for Israel.

"The transforming struggle of the 21st century is our struggle against radical Islamic extremism," he said to applause.