Rudy Giuliani

WASHINGTON – There are whispers among high-level political advisers to President Bush suggesting the possibility of replacing Dick Cheney with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the vice presidential running mate prior to the Republican National Convention in New York beginning Aug. 30.

Cheney, who has no aspirations to run for president in 2008 and has had well-publicized heart problems, has been involved in the discussions and is open to the idea if it strengthens the ticket and helps position a viable Republican candidate to succeed Bush, sources tell WND.

Originally, Cheney was asked by Bush to lead the effort to find the best running mate in 2000. After months of interviews and offering advice, Bush surprised many by picking Cheney.

Giuliani, as well as New York Gov. George Pataki, has been expected to play a starring role at the convention. Both are also considered possible presidential candidates in 2008. Securing the vice presidential nomination, however, would instantly make Giuliani the front-runner among all potential Republican candidates.

“There is some thinking at the very highest political levels that this move could add some late sizzle to the campaign, steal any thunder generated by the Democrats in Boston and even potentially put the state of New York in play for the president,” said one source close to both Giuliani and the White House.

No one is talking on the record, and the plan is not yet set in stone.

So far, the only people who have speculated publicly about such a move are Democrats.

“They’ll probably play Rudy heavier than any other part of the convention,” former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo told the Associated Press last week. “So Rudy will go up and people will start talking about him replacing Cheney or him running for president. It’ll be very, very good for Rudy.”

Giuliani became a national star in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers, killing almost 3,000 people. He became known as “America’s mayor.”

“They’ll make the most of 9-11, the most of Rudy,” Cuomo said. “He is now still iconic, you saw that in 9-11 and that’s it,” the Democrat added. “He’s received a stature which is, for the time being, absolutely unshakable.”

Giuliani has said he may return to elective politics as early as 2006 by running either for governor, should Pataki call it quits after three terms, or for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the face of prostate cancer, Giuliani withdrew from the 2000 Senate race won by Clinton.

By beating Clinton in 2006, Giuliani would not only position himself as a leading candidate for president in 2008, he would have eliminated the Democrats’ No. 1 contender. But it’s a risky proposition for Giuliani. If he can’t topple the popular Democratic incumbent, his chances of becoming president, or even winning the nomination in 2008, would be slim indeed.

There is little love lost between Pataki and Giuliani. Giuliani angered many Republicans in 1994 when he crossed party lines to endorse Cuomo’s bid for a fourth term. Pataki beat Cuomo in that election.

The only potential political danger in replacing Cheney with Giuliani, said a source close to Bush, is that it would create problems with the president’s right flank. Giuliani is widely perceived as less conservative than Cheney, and by elevating him to front-runner in 2008, Bush could anger many conservatives.

Giuliani is also being considered as a replacement for George Tenet as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. However, Bush appears to be in no rush to fill that slot. It’s possible, one source said, it could be held open for Cheney.

The GOP convention is being held Aug. 30-Sept. 2. Democrats are holding their convention in Boston at the end of July.

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