Giuliani Exits Race, Backs McCain

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CBNNews.com - Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has ended his bid for President in California.

He also endorsed Sen. John McCain during his announcement, which was made less than two hours before a GOP debate to be held at the Ronald Reagan Library in California.

"John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States," Giuliani said. "He's an American hero."

Giuliani recalled he had said in an earlier debate that McCain would be his choice for President if he were not running himself.

"If I'd endorsed anyone else, you would say I was flip-flopping," he said, mentioning an oft-repeated criticism of McCain's chief rival, Mitt Romney.

A Disappointing Loss

After suffering a debilitating third place finish Tuesday night, Giuliani delivered more of a farewell speech than a fight-on.

McCain won the Florida primary while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in a close second.

Republican officials said Giuliani would endorse McCain on Wednesday in California. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the public announcement.

"I'm proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ads, and cynical spin," Giuliani said as supporters with tight smiles crowded behind him. "You don't always win, but you can always try to do it right, and you did."

Last year, he was at the top of national polls, but the results of his unconventional strategy, which relied heavily on Florida to launch him into the coast-to-coast Feb. 5 nominating contests, seriously collapsed Giuliani's campaign.

McCain Thanks Giuliani

McCain, addressing his own supporters in Miami Tuesday night, gave Giuliani a warm rhetorical embrace.

"I want to thank my dear friend, my dear friend Rudy Giuliani, who invested his heart and soul in this primary and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is," McCain said. "Thank you, Rudy, for all you have added to this race and for being an inspiration to me and millions of Americans."

Hung His Bid on Leadership

Giuliani hung his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on his leadership.

His stalwart performance as New York mayor in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, earned him national magazine covers, international accolades, and widespread praise.

Steadfast in a crisis, as a candidate Giuliani was a bundle of contradictions, so much so that he liked to joke that even he didn't always agree with himself.

Giuliani became a Republican mayor of an overwhelmingly Democratic city as a moderate-to-liberal New Yorker who backed abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control.

Campaigning for national office, he claimed to have created the most conservative government in the most liberal city in America.

His Political Career

Giuliani, 63, first gained prominence as a crime-busting federal prosecutor in New York City. Jailing mob bosses, Wall Street executives and corrupt politicians helped propel his next career as a politician, but it wasn't an immediate success. He lost the first time he ran for mayor in 1989 before winning in 1993.

As mayor, he fostered a take-charge image by rushing to fires and crime scenes to brief the press, but some critics felt he was more concerned about taking credit from others for what became a historic decline in the city's crime rate during his tenure.

A bout with prostate cancer and the very public breakup of his marriage with second wife Donna Hanover - she first learned he was filing for divorce when he made the announcement at a televised news conference - forced Giuliani to withdraw from a race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000.

With no working strategy in his presidential campaign, no primary victories and dwindling resources, the mayor's third-place finish in Florida spelled the end of his run, even if his crestfallen supporters couldn't believe it.

"They'll be sorry!" a woman with a New York accent called out to the mayor as he spoke. "You sound like my mother," Giuliani joked.

Source: The Associated Press

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