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It all comes back to that 9/11 glow--something his rivals just don't have going for them. And Giuliani aides point out that neither McCain nor Romney is a slam dunk for social conservatives. They also argue that the reshuffling and front-loading of the primary calendar favor their man. Although they concede that Iowa and South Carolina will be tough terrain, they hope to do well in New Hampshire and break out of the pack on Feb. 5, 2008, when perhaps a dozen states (including New Jersey, which Giuliani owns) will hold primaries--a mad cross-country rush of ad buys and delegate counts that will favor the best-known, best-funded candidates. "By the first Tuesday in March, 30 states will have voted," says a Giuliani aide. "And we think the mayor will have emerged."
If Giuliani does manage to grab the nomination, he'll be in a position to redraw the general-election map, putting states like New York, New Jersey and California in play. Even if he doesn't win that territory, he'll force the Democrats to spend big to defend it--making it harder for them to compete in the battleground states they have to take. "If he's the nominee, it's very, very good for the G.O.P.," says DuHaime. If only those pesky primary voters have the sense to understand that.
The original version of this story attributed the following quote to a specific Giuliani adviser. "This is the first wide-open G.O.P. primary season since before 9/11, and the war on terror is such an important issue with conservative and moderate voters alike, I'm not sure the social issues are decisive now." The story was modified to attribute it to "one of Giuliani's advisers."