Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a moderate Republican best known for his stewardship of the city after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has taken the first step in a 2008 presidential bid, GOP officials said Monday.
The former mayor filed papers to create the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee, Inc., establishing a panel that would allow him to raise money for a White House run and travel the country.
The four-page filing, obtained by The Associated Press, lists the purpose of the non-profit corporation "to conduct federal 'testing the waters' activity under the Federal Election Campaign Act for Rudy Giuliani."
The paperwork is signed by Bobby Burchfield, a partner at the DC-based law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, a firm that handles political work.
Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel declined to comment.
Top-level name recognition
Giuliani was widely praised for leading the city during and after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He has said for months that he would wait until the end of the 2006 elections to decide whether to embark on a White House bid.
The former mayor is a moderate who supports gun control and abortion rights, stands that would put him at odds with the majority of GOP conservative base.
Still, the Giuliani brand remains strong; he headlined fundraisers for Republican candidates nationwide and his travel has done little to deny 2008 ambitions. During a visit earlier this month to Columbia, S.C., Giuliani dodged the question: "There's a chance, but that's after this election is over."
He then left South Carolina for New Hampshire, site of the nation's first primary and another GOP fundraiser.
Giuliani enjoys strong name recognition and roughly the same level of support as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Rice has insisted that she will not run; McCain is likely to file his papers creating an exploratory committee shortly.
Politics of 9/11
Giuliani, who was in his final days as New York City mayor when a pair of planes crashed into the World Trade Center's towers, became a national hero. Within hours of the attack, the mayor was visiting the site, caked in dust and walking through the chaos - a moment replayed repeatedly on television.
Assuming the role of "America's Mayor" and Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2001, Giuliani remained an in-demand speaker and GOP fundraiser. He was the first Republican to lead New York in decades, had cut crime and redeveloped rundown parts of the city.
He was a former U.S. attorney, leading campaigns against organized crime and corruption. He spent two years as the Justice Department's No. 3 post, overseeing all U.S. attorneys, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshals Service. The Brooklyn native was first elected New York's mayor in 1993, pledging to improve the city.
Giuliani eyed a run for the U.S. Senate in 2000, but ended that run while battling prostate cancer and a made-for-tabloids divorce from television star Donna Hanover. The messy divorce and his relationship with Judith Nathan also made his campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton all the more difficult.