Giuliani will likely take the weekend to think about it and another few days to tell the world, and with the state GOP convention on May 30, he doesn't have any longer than that. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno says Rudy is definitely in. But mayoral sources tell CNN that two new hires to the Senate campaign team have been told not to quit their day jobs. So the search is on for someone to throw at Hillary Clinton, who isn't saying anything lest the media storm cloud over Rudy move her way. The choices:
- Gov. George Pataki A strong statewide candidate and fund-raising powerhouse, but Rudy's an old rival, and Pataki says he's no understudy.
- Local Rich Guy Teddy Forstmann Could jump-start his campaign with his own money, and some GOPers love the idea of a slew of Hillary attack ads on someone else's dime. But rich-guy first-timers never win, especially against first l
- Rep. Peter King A likable fellow and Irish peace player who also voted not to impeach Mr. Clinton, so his standing with conservatives may be shaky.
- Rep. Rick Lazio Just ask him he's been angling for this nomination for a year, and made some enemies doing it. But he's cute and moderate (without alienating conservatives) and there's not much for voters to dislike about him.
- Rep. Jack Quinn The congressman from Buffalo is interested, but has a lot of work to do on his downstate name recognition.
If it sounds like none of these guys is much of a match, name-wise or money-wise, for Hillary With a Big Head Start, then you know how the Republican kingmakers feel. None of them are suggesting the nomination isn't still Rudy's to take, if he wants it, but not many of them are still counting on his having the stomach to get into what would be some Very Heavy Politics at this stage of his life.
He may, he may not. TIME senior political writer Eric Pooley says that unlike a lot of political calculations, this choice will be made in real time by a man whose decisions often seem to hit him like lightning flashes of inspiration to be passed on to the New York press as quickly and loudly as possible. "The only person who knows for sure whether Rudy Giuliani will run is Rudy Giuliani," he says. "There's an overwhelming feeling that he won't. But with this guy, you never know."