Image: Rudy Giuliani
John Raoux  /  AP file
Rudy Giuliani, right, with his wife Judith, speaks to a group of supporters in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday.
By NBC/National Journal Reporter
updated 1/30/2008 7:02:39 PM ET 2008-01-31T00:02:39

BURBANK — On his way to California on Wednesday to officially endorse Sen. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani said he was not seeking the vice presidential nomination.

The former New York mayor said "I'm supporting John McCain and he is far away the best person to be the commander in chief of the United States,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani added that the campaign had not discussed any potential role for him beyond campaigning for McCain in the Northeast.

“I am not seeking any position in government,” he said. “I am going to be a very enthusiastic and active supporter of John McCain. I have offered, anything he or his campaign believe I can do, I will do for them.”

He has already started to contact donors on McCain’s behalf, and said none of his supporters had ruled out backing McCain. Some had agreed, and others were considering it, he said.

Speaking to a small group of reporters aboard his charter plane from Orlando to California, Giuliani said “It was a great honor to run for president of the United States, despite the result.”

“I learned a tremendous amount from it that I will never forget. I grew as a person in doing it. It is a daunting experience that challenges everything about you and it either makes you better or maybe it makes you worse, but I believe it made me better.”

Giuliani had made his personal affection for McCain clear during his campaign, and said it was an obvious choice to support him as part of his withdrawal.

“It’s disappointing to lose a race for president because you believe you’re the best candidate, but I had made it clear before I had to make this decision who I thought the other best candidate was,” he said. “I think I made it clear during a debate that if I had not been running, I would be supporting John McCain."

Giuliani said his staff and the McCain campaign had been in touch “a number of times during this up and down election,” which suggests that at one point, when McCain’s campaign looked in trouble, the tables may have been turned and Giuliani was seeking McCain’s backing.

Giuliani said he dropped out Tuesday because any votes he would have gotten on Feb. 5 would have been taken from McCain.

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“In my heart, for real, I want John McCain to be the nominee of my party,” he said. “If I had stayed in I would have—I don’t know if I would have made a difference in some of those states—but certainly I would have taken votes away from him, because to some extent our vote overlapped more than some of the other candidates.”

Giuliani went on to say that he admired both former Massachusetts Gov. Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, saying he shared a unique experience with them.

Reflecting on his presidential bid, Giuliani said he felt sadness but also said he had prepared himself to lose.

“I was always ready to lose and I was always aware of the fact that despite the fact that I appeared to be the front-runner, that I was trying something different and something unorthodox and that had a risk attached to it,” he said. “I never at any point felt that I would win for sure.”

Slideshow: Rudy Giuliani Giuliani said preparing for debates was the most fun experience he had on the campaign trail, and downplayed the notion that Republican voters had rejected his proposals.

“No, I think there is something else going on,” he said, but would not elaborate. “I think the experts will have quite a little to analyze why that happened. I’m not sure I know yet.”

He said he would confer with his team in the coming weeks to review the controversial strategy to largely bypass the first primary contests.

“It was the only realistic strategy available to us given my strengths, my weaknesses, given the amount of money we were able to raise, and given the places we thought we could make a big impact,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t work. But, as we were going through the strategy we really did believe it would.”

Giuliani said the campaign taught him that he had a lot of “resilience.”

“That I haven’t lost, you know as you grow older you say to yourself, ‘have you lost your resiliency?’” he said. “And I think I have a tremendous amount of resiliency. The ability to bounce back.”

Giuliani said he was not giving any thought to future public office, but did not rule it out.

Video: Tim Russert on what's next

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