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Oh-eight (R): Rudy, we hardly knew ya

GIULIANI: The former New York mayor "rarely seemed comfortable with the rigorous campaigning required in Iowa and New Hampshire. He avoided confrontations with his opponents and, after a damaging duel with Mitt Romney in November over their records on immigration, government finance, and crime, Giuliani all but withdrew from the fight."
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley went anti-New York on Giuliani and blamed "that New York personality" on his loss, the New York Daily News reports. "The New York lifestyle hasn't gone over [in] some places. It seemed like the more people got acquainted with him, the less they liked him," he said, adding, "Things you do in New York don't stay in New York." New Yorkers in the article fired back.

The big gets from Team Giuliani are his fundraisers. "The scramble for Mr. Giuliani's fund-raisers began shortly after the former candidate conceded the Florida primary to Mr. McCain. These fund-raisers also include such industry titans as Ken Langone, chairman of Invemed Associates LLC, Ambassador Richard J. Egan, financier Wilbur Ross, investor Carl Icahn and Paul Singer, general partner of Elliott Associates LP, a New York trading firm. All told, they have raised nearly $70 million for Mr. Giuliani, $6 million of which is earmarked for the general election. That money is likely to be designated for use by whoever becomes the Republican nominee."

"Mr. Giuliani's donors may be as important to Mr. McCain as voters, since the new Republican front-runner has been struggling for cash for much of his campaign. Yesterday, Mr. McCain's campaign released his finance report for the fourth quarter of 2007 showing $4.5 million in debts."

MCCAIN: It's a good thing McCain's got the momentum, as the New York Times notes today -- because he's got to balance stumping with fundraising over the next week. "McCain will spend the days before Tuesday's contests crisscrossing the country for appearances in major media markets in delegate-rich California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and New York. He will also be forced to spend precious time in fund-raisers — he has three scheduled in the next two days -- to help pay for expensive television advertising in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York."

With Giuliani's exit, New York Republicans are starting to rally around McCain, as are their brethren in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Is McCain superstitious? Apparently he's not ready to call himself the front-runner. Why? McCain's never been a good front-runner.

ROMNEY: The New York Sun monitors conservative talk radio yesterday and finds some anti-McCain conservatives are starting to realize he might not be stopped. But one group is making one last ditch attempt to stop McCain. "A conservative group, Citizens United, said it would begin airing an ad on Fox News today in which Mr. McCain's visage suddenly emerges from behind a picture of Senator Clinton. 'One candidate voted against the Bush tax cuts -- both times. And pushed more restrictions on gun owners' rights. The same candidate joined Ted Kennedy to sponsor amnesty for illegals. And was even mentioned as a running mate for John Kerry,' the ad says. 'Hillary Clinton? No, John McCain … surprisingly liberal."

It was a quiet afternoon yesterday from the Romney campaign, NBC/NJ's Erin McPike notes. Very few press releases were sent from a campaign that tends to flood reporters' inboxes. True, the campaign's top communications staffers were stuck on a plane for hours as they traveled from one coast to another. And while they were likely prepping the candidate for last night's debate once they arrived in California, they were wheels down five hours before the debate even began.