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Coleman announces support for Giuliani

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U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, a former St. Paul mayor, formally announced his support for another former mayor -- New York City's Rudy Giuliani -- in the Republican race for president.

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"We have a shared experience of running a city," Coleman, R-Minn., said Thursday in his weekly telephone news conference with Minnesota reporters. "Our relationship is a long-standing relationship."

Coleman said he's professionally known Giuliani for 13 years, as Coleman served two terms as mayor of St. Paul before his 2002 election to the U.S. Senate, and Giuliani as New York City mayor.

With Minnesota playing host next year to the Republican National Convention, Coleman's endorsement sets up an interstate clash, as GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty serves as national co-chairman of U.S. Sen. John McCain's bid for president.

"I have a lot of gratitude and the most profound respect for my colleague, Sen. McCain, and for (Mitt) Romney, but I have shared experiences with Rudy Giuliani," Coleman said. "I know what it takes to lead a city."

Coleman said he and Giuliani share visions on economic development, fighting crime and holding taxes down as mayors. The Minnesota Republican also said he regularly consults with Giuliani, and even visited with him in his Capitol office last week.

"I have quietly consulted with him on domestic and international policy," Coleman said, adding they share views on the war in Iraq and the need to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons.

Both men were born in New York's Brooklyn borough, both are former prosecutors and both were first Democrats and now Republicans.

Asked about his own poll figures in his 2008 re-election bid, Coleman said Minnesota voters will make judgment on who has done the most for them, not necessarily on party label. And, he added, both he and Giuliani have reputation of setting aside party politics get the job done.

"He has rolled up his sleeves, and got the job done," Coleman said, also admitting that "these are tough times" for Republican candidates, given the war in Iraq and President Bush's low poll numbers.

"But the voters will decide by what I do," he said. "I have worked to get things done ... And (Rudy Giuliani) can carry Minnesota. He is electable. I'm also on the ballot, and that would certainly be a good thing for me."

Coleman said he went public with his endorsement after a political Web site, Politico.com, carried a story that Coleman would endorse Giuliani in a Washington, D.C., event today. Politico, however, got the wrong senator.

"They weren't exactly wrong, as I intended to endorse him, so I am announcing it now," Coleman said.

Minnesota Democrats didn't waste time to connect Coleman and Giuliani to the policies of President Bush.

"It's really not that surprising that Norm Coleman would endorse Rudy Giuliani for president, given that they both support President Bush and his failed war in Iraq," Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez said Thursday in a statement.

"Minnesotans want real change in the White House and the Senate, but given their support for status quo in Iraq, all we can expect from Coleman and Giuliani is more of the same," said Melendez.

The DFL statement was headlined as "Coleman, Giuliani: Two peas in a pod on Iraq."

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