Giuliani Assembles High-Powered Donors

The Associated Press
Friday, November 17, 2006; 12:26 AM

NEW YORK -- Republican Rudy Giuliani has assembled a group of high-powered business executives, including billionaire Texas oil mogul T. Boone Pickens, to raise money as the former New York City mayor weighs a full-blown presidential bid.

Giuliani headlined a meeting of the finance committee in New York on Wednesday. The group will be chaired by Roy Bailey, a former finance chairman for the Texas Republican Party and a founding member of Giuliani Partners, the former mayor's consulting firm.

"It's a group of very committed people who hope the mayor's exploratory committee leads to other things," Bailey said in an interview.

Among the most notable members of the group is Pickens, a longtime contributor to President Bush and other Republican candidates. In 2004, Pickens donated more than $4 million to GOP causes, including $3 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that made unsubstantiated allegations about Democratic Sen. John Kerry's military record.

Other members of Giuliani's finance committee include Barry Wynn, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and the finance chair of Bush's re-election campaign. The South Carolina primary is a key early contest in the presidential nominating process.

Another committee member is Tom Hicks, a Dallas billionaire and owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Hicks organized the investment group that purchased the Rangers in 1998 from a partnership that included Bush.

Anne Dickerson, a veteran Bush fundraiser who has been attached to Giuliani's political action committee, Solutions America, will be the committee's national fundraising director.

Bailey refused to disclose the finance committee's fundraising goals, but said the group was putting together a schedule of events around the country to begin in the next 30 days.

Bailey described Giuliani as "very serious" about the presidential exploratory effort, and said the success of the fundraising campaign will be an important gauge of whether the former mayor can raise the money he needs to go forward.

"The purpose of testing the waters is testing whether there is financial support," Bailey said.

Giuliani, widely praised for his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, has emerged as a national Republican leader and prodigious fundraiser for GOP candidates nationwide. But his liberal views on social issues _ he supports legal abortion, gay rights and gun control _ may not be well-received by Christian conservatives, who form a significant bloc of the Republican base.

National polls show Giuliani running strong among potential GOP presidential candidates, either topping the field or tied with Arizona Sen. John McCain. McCain filed papers on Thursday to form an exploratory committee.

Other potential GOP contenders include Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and New York Gov. George Pataki. Both decided against seeking another term with an eye toward 2008.

Giuliani's successor, Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has mused publicly about running as an independent.

© 2006 The Associated Press