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More Giuliani -- on his health, Iraq

 

From CNBC's Karin Caifa
In an interview today on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company," Rudy Giuliani told Kudlow he's surprised by the polls that show his campaign on top. "We didn't really get started until the end of January and probably should have done it three months earlier," he said.

The 2008 race is Giuliani's first political battle since a prostate cancer diagnosis prompted him to step out of the 2000 New York Senate race. On the heels of last week's announcement from John and Elizabeth Edwards that the former North Carolina senator will continue his quest for the Democratic nomination even with the return of Mrs. Edwards' cancer, Giuliani said he is in good health. "I'm cancer-free. I have been for six years," he told Kudlow. "I'm extremely healthy and energetic and I just got back on a red eye from California and I do four or five speeches, fund-raisers, meetings a day, sometimes six. So I've got tremendous energy."

Giuliani said that while he was disappointed he had to drop out of his 2000 race, the prospect of campaigning while undergoing treatment was just too daunting. "The way I campaign is 24 hours a day," he said. "It was going to be very, very close, and I couldn't give the Republican Party my best, if I was in and out of cancer treatment."

He said he never considered making a Senate bid against potential presidential opponent Hillary Clinton last year, and that the presidency has been the only office on his mind for the last two or three years. At 63, Giuliani acknowledged this will likely be his last political campaign. "For me to campaign," he said, "This is the year I have to do it."

Thrust into the national spotlight after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, the man dubbed "America's Mayor," warned that congressional Democrats are focusing too much on Iraq, and not considering the different kind of threat terrorists pose to the country. "In the long stretch of the Cold War, they never came into the United States and infiltrated and blew up the World Trade Center or tried to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge or tried to blow up train stations and buses in London," Giuliani said. "So this is a different kind of enemy, and it's an enemy that has tremendous aggression toward us."

Within Iraq, he also said proposed timelines for U.S. troop withdrawal make no sense. "I don't understand where the common sense comes about in wanting to tell your enemy the time for your retreat," he said. "I can't imagine in the long history of war that that's ever been very successful."

In the polls, Giuliani is leading the other top tier presidential hopefuls -- including John McCain and Mitt Romney -- but he acknowledged his campaign still has a long way to go. "I don't take them too seriously," he said of the polls. "And if I were that far behind, I wouldn't take it too seriously either. It's too early."

"I think it's going to go up and down," he added. "I hope we're there at the end, and I think we will be."