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Giuliani's Bid to Woo New Hampshire Independents Centers on Health Care

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By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
PLAYERS
Sunday, October 28, 2007

Independents will make all the difference in New Hampshire.

That bloc, which encompasses more than 40 percent of registered voters in the state, exercises huge influence in the presidential primary process, as unaffiliated individuals can cast a ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

While Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has drawn perhaps the most attention for his attempts to woo New Hampshire's independents, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) is set to begin a direct-mail and radio campaign of his own aimed at persuading unaligned voters to back his candidacy.

Both the radio ad, which will begin airing tomorrow, and the direct-mail piece, which will land in Granite State mailboxes over the next few days, are centered on Giuliani's health-care plan.

In the radio spot, Giuliani mentions his battle with prostate cancer and notes that his chances of surviving the disease in America were 82 percent, while in England his chances would have been 44 percent.

"You and I should be making the decisions about what kind of health care we get with our doctors, not with a government bureaucrat," Giuliani says in the ad.

The mail piece echoes that message. "Rudy Giuliani's health care plan offers freedom to choose a health plan that fits your needs and the freedom to keep it if you change jobs," the flier reads, above a graphic that shows Giuliani's plan does not amount to "government mandated health insurance" or require a tax increase.

Even Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella is on message. "Mayor Giuliani has the right idea when it comes to health care, and it has nothing to do with socialized medicine or government mandates," she said when asked about the health-care push.

Giuliani's appeal to personal freedom on health care, an issue regularly ranked among the most pressing by independent voters in New Hampshire, is aimed squarely at that large segment of voters in New Hampshire who believe firmly in the mantra of less government and lower taxes. (It is the "Live Free or Die" State, after all.)

For Giuliani to win New Hampshire, he must find a foothold among those voters -- many of whom will be shopping for a candidate, Republican or Democrat, who speaks to their concerns in January's primary. His profile as a fiscal conservative/social moderate should get him in the door; his campaign is hoping proposals such as his health-care plan can close the deal.

Coaxing Tom Udall

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who has quashed talk that he would run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), is coming under increasing pressure to reconsider that decision as Democrats have yet to come up with a candidate that can bring the party together.

A Web site ( http://www.draftudall.com) has cropped up aimed at persuading Udall to rethink his candidacy, and political Washington and the liberal blogosphere are stoking the effort. Udall has held northern New Mexico's 3rd District seat since 1998 and has stockpiled an impressive cash reserve, $802,000, that could be directly transferred to a Senate bid. He carries a potent last name in Democratic politics: His father, Stewart L. Udall, represented Arizona in Congress and was secretary of the interior; uncle Morris K. Udall was another Arizona congressman and a presidential candidate; and cousin Mark Udall is a congressman from Colorado who also happens to be running for Senate in 2008.


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