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Giuliani losing steam in '08 presidential race

The former New York City mayor has been slipping in the polls as social issues – not security concerns – have dominated.

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Just a month ago, Rudy Giuliani was riding high in polls of Republican voters for their party's 2008 presidential nomination. The former mayor of New York enjoyed near universal name recognition and a sterling reputation for leadership and decisiveness in the aftermath of 9/11.

And his liberal stands on divisive issues such as abortion? Maybe a new day had dawned, in which enough social conservative voters would put security concerns ahead of the culture wars to nominate a liberal Republican, some party activists had suggested. Others touted Mr. Giuliani's strength in the GOP field as a sign that theirs was a "big tent" party.

Now, the tide seems to be shifting. Giuliani's poll numbers have flattened noticeably in the past few weeks, following the first GOP debate early this month and the ensuing news coverage over his conflicted answer on abortion rights.

In the latest Cook Political Report/RT Strategies poll, Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona by just one point, 25 percent to 24 percent, down from a seven-point lead at the end of April. In the Gallup poll, Giuliani's lead over Senator McCain has shrunk from 14 points in early May to six points in mid-May.

"He's been on the ropes the last couple of weeks," says Amy Walter, an analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, who cites not just his liberal stand on abortion, but also his inability to explain himself clearly. "Giuliani's strongest asset is supposed to be this sense that … he projects strength and courage of conviction. Yet on the first question about a contentious issue, he seemed to be all over the place."

Giuliani's performance in debate

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