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More campaign troubles for guiliani

Rudy Giuliani is back on the front pages of the New York City tabloids, thanks to a juicy scandal straight out of junior high. There's the misplaced binder.

There's the list of serious crushes. There are allegations of treachery and deception. But however sexy the mystery, the memo itself isn't especially eye-popping.

The key vulnerabilities it points out sordid details from Giuliani's three marriages and the clientele of his private security business, Giuliani Partners. Were already well-known to the former New York mayor's potential opponents. Indeed, Giuliani may well have to worry more about five key vulnerabilities the purloined memo left out:

The real problem for Giuliani isn't the missing binder itself, it's that it went missing in the first place. Giuliani's candidacy, after all, will be centered around his expertise in security, order and efficiency. "It's hard to say you're staying up all hours thinking about every unplugged hole in the homeland-security infrastructure when you can't even keep track of your own documents," said one Republican strategist who asked not to be identified because he has yet to affiliate with a presidential candidate. "This looks like the Clinton administration."

For months, some Republicans have scratched their heads over the Giuliani camp's slow response to charges he can't run in culturally conservative primary states. They've also marveled over his team's lack of concern over the potential political trouble waiting in Giuliani Partners' client list.

Some in the party have wondered if this laissez-faire attitude suggests Giuliani isn't really serious about his presidential run. Others see a more sinister explanation: arrogance. In the eyes of some Republicans, Giuliani is banking too heavily on his 9/11 performance to shield him from intense personal scrutiny.

This could prove a fatal error. "Bernie Kerik thought he was Teflon, too," said one Republican strategist, recalling Giuliani's 9/11 police commissioner whose nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security was torpedoed by allegations of personal and financial malfeasance.

In his first year out of office, Giuliani earned some $8 million in speaking fees alone and has taken much more on top of that through work for Giuliani Partners around the globe.

His zeal for big paychecks is hardly unusual: many long-term public servants cash in upon their return to the private sector, particularly those with large child-support and alimony bills. But unlike most ex-politicians, Giuliani has had the New York gossip press breathlessly trumpeting every celebrity-filled dinner he's attended and many of the glittering gifts he's lavished on his new bride, Judith Nathan.

Operatives in both parties have kept close tabs on Giuliani's fabulous life outside the mayor's mansion.

This could spell trouble, since "America's mayor" has always run on his Regular Guy appeal.

One of Giuliani's key strengths as a candidate is the notion he can attract the kind of voters who don't normally consider Republican candidates.



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