Republican Rudy Giuliani may be no closer to deciding whether to run for president than he was before arriving in New Hampshire this week, but the former mayor is showing signs that he would run a better campaign than he did in 2008.
Giuliani spent Friday at Dartmouth College, where he spoke to a political science class, answered questions from students and reporters and then held a town-hall style gathering in the campus arts center. Despite the heat — he jokingly answered a question about global warming by wiping sweat off his brow — he spent more than an hour answering sometimes pointed questions on everything from AIDS research to the economy.
Giuliani has said he still has the desire to return to public service but won't make his decision until late August or early September. But he has promised that if he does run, he'll avoid the mistakes he made last time, when his campaign favored speeches and photo-ops over retail politics and put little stock in the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire, focusing instead on delegate-rich states that voted later.
Giuliani told the political science class that he often pursued unpopular goals as mayor — such as welfare reform — because he knew he was doing the right thing for the city.
"Even though they wouldn't understand it right now, they would see the results and they'd ultimately appreciate it," he said. "Sometimes you have to make calculations like that."
He says that approach also applies to his decision about a presidential run: People might not understand why he is spending so much time in New Hampshire or taking so long, but he wants to take his time to get it right.
"I know why I'm doing it, because I want to help New Hampshire, help the party. But I'm also doing it because I want to figure out in my own mind the answer to the question ... do I have a chance to win?" he said. "And the only way you're going to do it is by talking to people, getting their opinions and then finally making a decision. And the answer is not an easy answer, it's a difficult answer and that's why it takes a little while."
But asked whether anything in the last two days helped push him in either direction about another presidential bid, Giuliani laughed and said no.
"Probably, I'll think about that tomorrow," he said.