ATLANTA – Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor considered a potential 2008 candidate for president, headlined a fundraiser Thursday for former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed in his run for Georgia lieutenant governor.
The two politicians were effusive in their praise for one another as they entered the Atlanta fundraiser just before noon.
"I just want to say I believe Rudy Giuliani is one of the finest leaders in not only the Republican Party but in either party," Reed said.
Giuliani responded: "We're here to get you elected. It would be a great thing for Georgia."
Reed's campaign was looking for a boost before the July 18 Republican primary after being dogged by ties between Reed and Jack Abramoff, the powerful Washington lobbyist now facing prison time for conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud.
The luncheon could also help Giuliani draw conservative support in a run for president. His endorsement of Reed comes weeks after the Rev. Jerry Falwell said he admired the former mayor but could not support him for president because of "irreconcilable differences on life and family."
Giuliani supports abortion rights, gay rights and gun control.
Reed's Republican opponent, state Sen. Casey Cagle, has challenged Reed's credentials and connections to Abramoff.
Abramoff reportedly paid Reed's businesses $4.2 million to mobilize Christian voters against casinos that would compete with Abramoff's Indian tribe clients. Reed has not been charged with a crime and has said repeatedly that he regrets his work with Abramoff.
Reed has never run for elected office but has often been a key strategist. He chaired the Georgia Republican Party in 2002, when the GOP pulled off upset victories and saw its first Republican governor win office since 1872.