CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani became the latest political star to stump for Elizabeth Dole, following a strategy that some political observers say shows the GOP is worried about holding on to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jesse Helms.
Giuliani's appearance with Dole on Monday follows hard on the heels of President Bush, whose visit Thursday marked the fourth he has made with Dole in the state since January. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at a fund-raiser for Dole in Raleigh last month.
"Rudy Giuliani is one of the stars of the Republican Party, and they're bringing everyone in," said Thad Beyle, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "It tells you they are a little nervous about this race."
Giuliani was the headline attraction at a fund-raising luncheon with Dole, who also celebrated her 66th birthday on Monday. Individuals paid $200 a plate to attend the luncheon at a downtown hotel. Others paid up to $3,000 to have their pictures taken with Dole and Giuliani.
Dole, a two-time Cabinet secretary and former presidential candidate, has raised double the campaign cash of top North Carolina Democratic candidate Erskine Bowles, the White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration.
"They (Republicans) are focusing on the seats they could lose," said Beyle.
Beyle speculated that factors outside Dole's control could be making the North Carolina Senate race a toss-up.
"It could be that the economy has turned sour and we have a Republican president in office," Beyle said. "It's also true that the party of the president often doesn't do well in off-year elections."
At a news conference, Dole introduced Giuliani as a fierce crime crusader during his tenure as a federal prosecutor in New York and his eight years as mayor. Even those accomplishments, she said, were overshadowed by the leadership he demonstrated on Sept. 11 and beyond.
"It is in times of testing that we take measure of leadership in our institutions and ourselves," Dole said. "We are so lucky to have had the leadership of Mayor Giuliani."
Endorsing Dole, Giuliani said the nation needs leaders with character and experience.
"Mrs. Dole's knowledge and experience in foreign affairs is exactly the kind of thing we need in Washington, D.C., during this time of transition," he said.
The appearances by high-profile outsiders have been criticized by the Bowles campaign and others because Dole has also been trying to portray herself as a down-home North Carolinian. Dole, a Salisbury native and wife of former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, has spent much of her adult life in Washington.
Giuliani smiled when he was asked what a New Yorker might say to a room full of Southerners to persuade them to vote for Dole.
"I don't know if any outsider can influence anyone's vote," he said. "I'm speaking here as an American, not a New Yorker."