Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani called for a national campaign to achieve energy independence during a Missouri campaign stop Saturday.

The former New York mayor said a national program to tap new energy sources, akin to the 1960s technological race to beat the Soviets to the moon, would give Republicans a positive issue to stand for in the 2008 White House race.

"Too much of our party is defined by what we're against. Too little is defined by what we're for. When you start being for something, millions and millions of people start to follow you," Giuliani told a fundraising breakfast for Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the House minority whip.

"Energy independence, I think, is the single most important thing that's going to face us in the next four or five years aside from the terrorist war on us," he told about 200 Blunt supporters who paid $250 each for the event.

Giuliani said energy independence was linked to national security because dependence on oil means the U.S. and its allies have to pay money to "our enemies", including Iran and Venezuela.

He also called for a renewed focus on capturing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who he said has been "hiding in a cave" since the September 11 attacks. Giuliani drew applause when he criticized deadlines for a withdrawal from Iraq sought by congressional Democrats.

Blunt has not endorsed Giuliani or any other Republican for the presidential nomination, Blunt's spokesman said.