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Despite trailing Giuliani in national surveys, McCain has the lead in the key nominating contests of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, according to new American Research Group polls. In Iowa, McCain is at 26%, followed by Giuliani at 19%, Romney at 14%, and Fred Thompson at 13%. In New Hampshire, McCain is ahead with 29%, while Romney finishes second at 24%, and Giuliani comes in third at 17%. And in South Carolina, it's McCain at 36%, Giuliani at 23%, and Thompson at 10%.

The Los Angeles Times is the latest to write about how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is trying to influence the 2008 presidential race. "On Tuesday, [he] met privately with Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Sacramento. And Schwarzenegger will attend the GOP debate Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley as a guest of Nancy Reagan. He has already made joint appearances with Republican candidates John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani… Aides have said the governor may also deliver speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire, using the two crucial campaign battlegrounds to promote his ideas on such topics as curbing global warming and making healthcare coverage more accessible."

GIULIANI: The New York Times says that Giuliani's ties to a Texas law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, has allowed him to raise plenty of money in that state. But it also poses risks for the former mayor. "The firm is perhaps the nation's most aggressive lobbyist for coal-fired power plants, heavy emitters of air pollutants and carbon dioxide, a gas associated with global warming… Most significantly, perhaps, the law firm is one of the higher-profile defenders of the oil, gas and energy industries, to which it provides legal help and extensive lobbying services in Washington."

We also wrote this yesterday, but Giuliani assailed Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and called him a dangerous foe to the U.S. But the aforementioned Texas law firm -- with Giuliani's name on the shingle -- lobbies for the Chavez-controlled CITGO.