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Giuliani Talks Up Unity Among N.C. Republicans

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani preached GOP unity at a state Republican Party fundraiser Monday, two weeks after bruising legislative primaries in which two key incumbents out of favor with the party establishment lost.

Giuliani buried talk about the views on social issues that would leave him at odds with many in the crowd of about 300 Republicans at a Raleigh hotel, instead citing shared beliefs in fiscal discipline, tax reductions, and an aggressive agenda in the war on terror.

"I think that as a party that unites us as Republicans," Giuliani said at the event where GOP officials hoped to raise as much as $100,000. "It creates a party in which we all see why we're Republicans, we have to join together. While we may have some differences ... the things that unite us are much more important."

Giuliani, who is considering a Republican presidential run in 2008, didn't specifically mention the North Carolina GOP infighting that led to the defeat of House Speaker Pro Tempore Richard Morgan, R-Moore, and one of his leading allies in the May 2 primary.

Morgan, and Rep. Rick Eddins, R-Wake, lost after being targeted by an independent political group whose leaders had ties to the state Republican Party establishment. The group accused Morgan and four others of betraying party principles by joining House Democrats in a power-sharing agreement starting in 2003.

The state party also gave at least $63,000 to Morgan's challenger.

State GOP Chairman Ferrell Blount said those primary defeats were brought on because the lawmakers failed to be team players.

"The Republican Party is a big tent party. And we don't have to agree on every single thing," Blount said. "My guess is that Rudy Giuliani's message, as can be seen by this crowd, sold well today and will continue to sell in North Carolina."

Giuliani, hailed by many for his leadership in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said GOP leaders agree with President Bush that the U.S. must remain on the offensive against terrorism to protect the country, but it's difficult with uniformed men and women dying overseas.

"But you've got to look forward. You've got look where we're trying to go. Where we're trying to go is a world without terrorism. You're not going to get there by going back on defense," he added. "We need Republicans, who I think understand this better."

Giuliani stayed clear of his support of abortion and gay rights as well as tough gun control laws, which helped him gain support of Democrats on the way to his two terms as mayor. He also stayed clear of responding to questions about his viability in the South in a GOP presidential primary: "No one knows who's going to win primaries this year, much less two or three years from now."

State Sen. Fred Smith, R-Johnston, a potential 2008 gubernatorial contender who introduced him to the crowd, said Americans may look away from Giuliani if their priorities are focused on non-security issues.

"Sometimes the external factors dictate who's needed," Smith said. "If we still have a problem with terrorism, if we still have a problem with foreign policy ... I think the times will be favorable to him."

Giuliani later participated in a round-table discussion with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., on emergency responders and public health at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh.

"Preparing for a terrorist attack and preparing for a natural disaster are not mutually exclusive," he said.

Giuliani was scheduled to give a charity event speech in Winston-Salem later Monday.

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