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The Politics of Confrontation

4:10 PM, Oct 4, 2007 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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In this Politico interview, Rudy Giuliani declined to attack his fellow Republicans:

"The degree of difference with the Democrat candidates is huge," [Giuliani] argued, minimizing intraparty distinctions his GOP rivals hope to exploit. "The real differences here are with the Democrats."

The day after Giuliani gave that interview, rival Mitt Romney launched an assault on the mayor's fiscal record that shows no sign of abating. So far, Giuliani has relied on surrogates and staff to make his case for him and counterattack. For his part, Hizzoner continues to focus fire on the Democrats.

To date, this strategy seems to have worked. But the campaign is only beginning - and the Romney attack is the first of many Giuliani will see launched against him in the coming months. Now, so far Giuliani has focused on the Democrats in order to show his alliance with conservatives. But letting attacks go by without personally responding is not exactly, um, the mayor's style.

And so we have a paradox: In order to win the Republican nomination, Giuliani seems to believe he must train all his fire on Democrats. But Giuliani can't win the Republican nomination unless he proves to GOP voters that he is the most worthy candidate. Which requires him to demonstrate why his rivals are not worthy. Which, up to this point, he has decided not to do. And which leaves him in a bind.

Unless, of course, the gloves are about to come off.