ALBANY, N.Y. – Rudy Giuliani campaigned Tuesday for a second straight day across New York with a message aimed obviously at Republicans outside his home state: I can battle them for the blues.
The "them" is, of course, the Democrats who have been making much of picking up a red state or two and winning back the White House, perhaps riding there with Giuliani's home-state rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Giuliani pledges to take the battle against the Democrats to the blue states.
"One of Giuliani's arguments is that he can beat Hillary Clinton, and as long as Hillary remains strong with the Democrats, that is a good argument for Rudy," said Lee Miringoff, head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion. "Part of his strategy with Republicans in red states is he might be able to challenge Democrats in blue states."
"Rudy puts New York in play, something no other Republican candidate can do," said Giuliani campaign operative Michael McKeon, once a top aide to former GOP Gov. George Pataki. "New York will be a battleground state with Rudy at the top of the ticket."
Giuliani said much the same as he picked up the endorsements of state GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello and more than 50 of the state's 62 county chairmen in Manhattan on Monday.
"My view of this race for president is that the Republican Party should not go into this election, as we have in the past, having to write off New York, Connecticut, New Jersey," he said. "We've got to make this a 50-state election."
Recent polls from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute showed Giuliani leading the pack of Republicans and Democrats in both Connecticut and New Jersey. He trailed Clinton, 50 percent to 42 percent, in New York — the strongest showing of any Republican there.
Part of Giuliani's plan, according to Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, "is to tweak Hillary at home — to say to the Republican base, which is decidedly anti-Clinton, anti-Hillary Clinton, that he can give her a run at home."
Sheinkopf said the jury is still out on whether the Giuliani strategy will work when it comes to winning the GOP nomination.
"We won't know the answer until we see what the Southern states really do," he said.
For its part, the Clinton camp appeared little concerned.
"Poll after poll shows that Hillary Clinton beats every candidate from any party in New York, and is by far the most popular candidate in New York City," said campaign spokesman Blake Zeff.
In fact, no Republican presidential contender has carried New York since Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. There are more than 5 million Democrats in the state and about 3 million Republicans.
Giuliani repeated his theme from Monday as he rallied about 500 party members at a $250 a plate fundraising lunch for U.S. Rep. Jim Walsh in Syracuse on Tuesday.
"This time we are not giving up on New York. This time we are going to win New York, and we are going to win California, and New Jersey, and Connecticut and Pennsylvania," he said. "We are going to contest this election in every state and not give away half the states before the election even begins."
In response to questions, Giuliani also said that "upstate is critical. Upstate is the place where Republicans offset the losses of New York City. I think I can hold down New York City, probably more effectively than anyone. But it's still a Democratic city ... so you are going to have to make it up in upstate New York, and you have to make it up in the suburbs."
Later in the day, Giuliani was flying to Albany, where he was to be endorsed by state Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and other GOP state lawmakers, and then on to a fundraiser for himself in Buffalo.
The Giuliani appearance with Bruno underscores just how far the former New York City mayor has come in improving relations with the New York GOP. In 1994, Giuliani crossed party lines to endorse incumbent Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo as he unsuccessfully sought a fourth term against Pataki. At the time, Bruno denounced him as "Judas Giuliani."
But Bruno, hoping to protect his slim 33-29 majority in the Senate, is banking on a strong Giuliani top-of-the-ticket pull to help New York's GOP in the 2008 state legislative races.
Miringoff said that by spending some time campaigning in New York, Giuliani is also taking out a political insurance policy.
"If he stumbles early in Iowa or New Hampshire, he certainly wants to rebound on Feb. 5" when New York and a host of other big states, including New Jersey and California, hold their presidential primaries, he said.