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Oh-eight (R): $30 mil man?

Bloomberg News looks at how gun owners aren't ready to believe that either Giuliani or Romney has become pro-gun. But the two most pro-gun top tier candidates -- McCain and Thompson -- supported McCain-Feingold, something the NRA in particular has railed against.

GINGRICH: In a roundtable with reporters yesterday, Gingrich outlined his beefs with a number of things, including the political system, Washington Republicans, the elite left, and other traditional Gingrich targets. He also singled out praise (as he's done before) for the new French leader Nicolas Sarkozy. As for a timeline on running for president, he's allowing a political aide take the month of October to see if he can secure financial commitments of $30 million. If he does, then expect Gingrich to get in. He even has a couple of announcement dates circled on the calendar: Nov 6 or Nov 13. The 6th is one year out from the general, and the 13th would be the 28th anniversary of Reagan's announcement in '79.

GIULIANI: Speaking to reporters in Reston, VA yesterday, Giuliani said he would emphasize where he and NRA agree in his speech today to the organization, per NBC/NJ's Matt Berger notes. "As I've said many, many times, my 80% friend is not my 20% enemy," Giuliani said. "There probably is not a group in America that I can go before where there aren't some disagreements with that group."
NBC's Lauren Appelbaum adds Giuliani would not say whether his views on guns had changed. "I am just saying my view right now is what's needed for this country right now," he said, "[which] is focusing on those people who use guns and use them illegally."

Indeed, per the Giuliani campaign, the candidate today will emphasize his New York record of getting guns out of criminals' hands. "Mayor Giuliani successfully worked to get guns out of the hands of criminals in order to transform a city out of control," spokeswoman Maria Comella said in a statement released yesterday. "By being tough on crime and enforcing the laws on the books, New York City's murder rate was cut by 66 percent. The bottom line: the best way to deal with gun-related crime is to prosecute the criminals and enforce the laws already on the books."

The New York Times writes about the final months of Giuliani's term as mayor -- 9/11 and afterwards. The portrait is both positive and negative. The compassionate side of Giuliani is on display in this piece, but so is the ambitious side (to the point of power hungry?) More details are revealed at Giuliani's attempts to get his term extended, which is not the high point of the piece for Giuliani.

Giuliani backed Rep. Peter King (R-NY) over his "too many mosques" comment after King said his quote was taken out of context. "What I have always said, or for the last four or five years, is that we have too many mosques in this country that don't cooperate with law enforcement," King told the New York Daily News. "Unfortunately, Politico was incapable of making this distinction." Giuliani: "'I knew exactly what he meant,' which is that violence is preached in mosques, he said. 'I know that from my own investigations of Islamic terrorism.'"

HUCKABEE: He won a South Carolina straw poll attended by about 600 conservatives. He and Hunter were the only candidates to show up in person. Thompson, McCain, and Paul telephoned into the event. Romney sent a video message. "The only candidate without a presence at the meeting was … Giuliani… The crowd booed his absence."

MCCAIN: The Arizona senator is going to take a rare veiled swipe at Giuliani during his speech to the NRA. He'll criticize the lawsuit Giuliani and other mayors pushed against gun manufacturers.

McCain criticized Columbia University for extending an invitation to Ahmedinejad speak at its World Leaders Forum: "A man who is directing the maiming and killing of Americans troops should not be given an invitation to speak at an American university."

THOMPSON: The Boston Globe's Kranish looks at the "dueling perceptions" of the Thompson campaign. "Two weeks after he entered the race, Thompson's candidacy is as much of an enigma as it was during his summerlong 'testing the waters' phase. He has not fizzled or run away with the lead, yet there is evidence that either possibility could happen."

More: "Some of the initial reviews of Thompson's entry have been harsh. The Des Moines Register called his Iowa kickoff 'underwhelming,' and the influential conservative columnist George Will called his campaign entry a 'belly flop.' But Time magazine said Thompson had been 'mugged' by insiders who don't understand his appeal."

Bottom line: Thompson's been doing well with actual voters (see various polls) but doing terribly with the conservative elite (see Dobson, Will et al).