Kinder, Gentler Rudy in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla.—Between two campaign events at the Rosen Centre Hotel here, Rudy Giuliani held a brief press conference in which he sought to portray himself as the reasonable, positive and polite presidential candidate disapproving of the negative exchanges between John McCain and Mitt Romney.

In other words, Giuliani, once the Republican front-runner, has been relegated to the long-shot role played by John Edwards on the Democratic side: that of the suddenly awakened moral conscience tsk-tsk-ing on the front-runners’ shoulders.

“I think this election should be about positive things,” said Giuliani. “What we can do. What we can accomplish.”

Earlier, speaking to a tiny room filled with about 100 supporters, he had characterized the sniping of Romney and McCain as similar to the poisonous volleys between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and said that it made no sense for Republicans to wade into the negative campaigning that the Democrats were struggling to get out of.

In the press conference, which took place under the watchful gaze of Giuliani’s senior political advisor Anthony Carbonetti in the back of the room, the former mayor refused to take the bait on one question: What had he thought about McCain’s demand of an apology from Romney, over his remarks on a “secret timetable” in Iraq?

“I’m not going to get involved in the back and forth,” Giuliani said, adding “I think it would be far better if we all remained positive.”

The reporters in the room weren’t exactly buying the softer, sweeter Giuliani.

A reporter asked, “Mayor, you’ve been known to lob some harsh words yourself—the words ‘sanctuary mansion’ come to mind—some people think you are being nice now because you no longer believe you are going to win, what do you say about that?”

“The reason I am being positive is that I believe that it is the way to win,” Giuliani responded.

Giuliani responded to questions about his lagging poll numbers in Florida by saying, “Florida will pick me. I think the reality is that there is a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of early voting.” Kinder, Gentler Rudy in Orlando