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How Giuliani managed to blow his chance at the presidency

Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, 63, a well-off and well-known citizen with residences in Manhattan and the Hamptons, faces a resumption of private-sector life.

Throughout his yearlong presidential adventure, undoubtedly aware this day could come, the former New York City mayor stayed linked to his partnership and law firm, taking hits on some of the clientele and leaving a key business in the trusted hands of his longtime friend, Peter Powers.

Sure, he spent months playing Twister with his record as mayor, put out ads that missed and drew the kind of harsh scrutiny that more sensitive candidates complain about.

But His Honor is expected to retain a player's stake in a GOP White House. For the most part, Giuliani kept it friendly with Sen. John McCain. Now that Giuliani has endorsed McCain, Giuliani's supporters are consoling themselves with hope of a vice presidential slot.

Early on, the two GOP candidates traded kudos. One nasty skirmish arose when McCain talked up the indictment of Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's former police commissioner, on ethics violations. The Giuliani camp responded by bringing up the senator's worrisome role years ago in the Keating Five bank scandal, when he accepted a relatively small contribution from a banking firm involved in the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s.

That exchange became water under the bridge six days ago when McCain volunteered during a debate: "I know this is unusual ... but I happen to know Rudy Giuliani. I happen to know he's an American hero."

McCain might have known more than that -- such as where Giuliani stood with Florida's Republicans, and who he'd endorse once he dropped out.

Things cannot go back to being the same for Giuliani. The unquestioned TV adulation, lecture tours and book deals that followed the Sept. 11 attacks have faded. Any political capital conferred in the aftermath of those attacks appears long since depleted.

It might seem awkward for Giuliani's partnership to be touting strategic advice so soon after his own campaign declared itself bold, innovative and visionary -- then hit the market like a modern-day Edsel.

On Dec. 31, the campaign released a "strategy memo" titled "Looking Good." "Our rivals seemingly have built campaigns based on the old calendars' strategies," it said. "Putting a high priority on spending our time and money in a proportional basis in Florida and the large delegate states voting on Feb. 5 is clearly the right thing to do. ... History will prove us right."

It was downhill from there.

Even the mayor's best-selling 2002 book, "Leadership," was a bit perishable.

"A leader must manage not only results but expectations," Giuliani wrote. Such as, say, claiming in your mailings that you're the only alternative to a new Clinton presidency?

"Surround yourself with great people," he wrote. Such as, say, a soon-to-be-disgraced former police commissioner (whose next federal court date is next week)?

"Prepare relentlessly," he wrote. Such as, say, by blowing off one key early primary and trying to downplay your efforts in the next? Now someone else might wish to follow his sound advice.

Janison is a Newsday political columnist.

TIMES-POST NEWS SERVICE

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