Giuliani Cites Reagan, Not Bush, as Model for Strong Leadership

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Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has largely steered clear of criticizing President Bush as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, took an indirect swipe at the president on Thursday, suggesting that Mr. Bush was failing to provide strong leadership.

“What we’re lacking is strong, aggressive, bold leadership like we had with Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Giuliani told supporters at a Flag Day rally in Wilmington, Del.

With Mr. Bush’s job-approval rating at a record low, Mr. Giuliani is wrestling with how to not seem disloyal to the president while making it clear that he would bring change to Washington.

Unlike Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been a frequent and vocal critic of the administration as he campaigns for the 2008 Republican nomination, Mr. Giuliani has largely avoided directly challenging the actions of the White House.

After his address in Delaware, Mr. Giuliani was quick to try to explain his remarks and praise Mr. Bush.

“I have tremendous admiration for President Bush,” he said, according to a transcript provided by his campaign. “I guess in the first debate when some of my Republican colleagues were trying to distance themselves I went ahead and I said, you know, we Republicans should be talking about the things President Bush has done right.”

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