The South Rises — and Raises — for Mayor Rudy

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When the going gets weird, as Hunter S. Thompson observed, the weird turn pro. And next year’s race to represent New York in the U.S. Senate seat is shaping up to be one weird puppy. Undeclared candidate Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday launched his most concerted campaigning tour yet –- in Little Rock, Ark. As political theater, it gets rave reviews, but the witty jab at carpetbagging has worn a little thin, with Giuliani repeatedly saying things like "I’ve never lived here, I’ve never worked here, I’ve never gone to school here... I guess it would be cool to run for the Senate." (Memo to Rudy: We get it, we get it. The joke works best when you don’t spell it out.) And over in New York, presumptive candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s handlers responded sniffily that the First Lady would not be distracted or deterred from her "listening tour" of New York.

Giuliani appears to have netted more than laughs, though: Republican donors are scrambling to throw money at the First Lady’s likely opponent. Having raised $90,000 on Tuesday in Little Rock and New Orleans, Mayor Giuliani will have netted an estimated $200,000 after a swing through Alabama Wednesday. But the mayor’s aides may have taken the theatrics a little far for some New Yorkers. Giuliani’s somewhat rocky record as a racial healer was unlikely to be enhanced Tuesday by the spectacle of the Arkansas flag –- with its strong Confederate imagery –- being raised over City Hall in downtown Manhattan.