LIANE HANSEN, host:
One of the candidates who would like to create a White House legacy of his own returned to the campaign trail this weekend.
Republican Rudy Giuliani had fallen ill in St. Louis earlier in the week. He even had a brief stay in the hospital. But NPR's Audie Cornish reports that the former New York City mayor is back on his feet and looking for votes.
AUDIE CORNISH: Rudy Giuliani eased himself back on to the scene in New Hampshire starting with a small town hall meeting in Hopkinton. His introduction to the crowd was a televised ad showcasing his campaign theme.
(Soundbite of Rudy Giuliani Campaign Ad)
Unidentified Man: America deserves leadership. And America needs Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani - tested, ready, now.
CORNISH: Not that voters haven't seen enough of Giuliani on TV, there have been lots of Giuliani ads here. The campaign has spent more than 2 million on television, but they've done little to boost his sagging poll numbers. He's been eclipsed by both Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, and Senator John McCain who won the state back in 2000.
Now Giuliani is practicing retail politics, trying to get in the good graces of voters like Scott Smith.
Mr. SCOTT SMITH(ph) (Voter): I like his fiscal conservatism. I think he did do a good job in New York. Primarily, I'm just here to learn more.
CORNISH: Fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republicans in the Granite State could be a natural fit for Giuliani.
Mr. DAVID PERRIN(ph) (Voter): I like the fact that he's strong. He's interested in our defense and, hopefully, will cure the immigration problem.
CORNISH: But voters like David Perrin(ph) and Clark Lindley(ph) are also seeing a lot of Romney and McCain. McCain has won some high-profile endorsements such as from the Manchester Union Leader, and Romney's vast campaign resources have helped him blanket the state.
For his part, Giuliani has been crisscrossing the nation. He pitches himself as a Republican who can compete with the Democrats in every region of the country.
Mr. RUDOLPH GIULIANI (Former Republican Mayor, New York; Presidential Candidate): I want to run a 50-state campaign where we contest in all 50 states, not just in 30 or 35. And we have a broad-based party built around strong national defense, being in offense against Islamic terrorism and being on offense for a growth economy.
CORNISH: Which is exactly what voter Bill Chapin(ph) is looking for, although he is not sure yet if that's what Giuliani can be.
Mr. BILL CHAPIN (Voter): I have some close New York City friends and they support the ex-mayor, and think he'd do a good job as president. But I - the people that are against Giuliani are strongly against him, and I'm really was hoping to find a compromised candidate that could represent all of us and satisfy nearly all of us.
CORNISH: Giuliani later told reporters that he's in good health and a hundred percent better after experiencing headaches that sent him to the hospital late last week. You might recall that in 2000, he dropped out of the New York Senate race against Hillary Clinton because of prostate cancer. Giuliani said these days, he is cancer-free, and he'll have his doctors issue a report to the public about his health after the holidays.
That's when he will continue to build on his support in states like Florida, with its vast trove(ph) of ex-New Yorkers, whose primary doesn't come until January 29th. A word of caution: no Republican has ever lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and gone on to win the nomination.
Audie Cornish, NPR News, Manchester, New Hampshire.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.