CONCORD, N.H. — The revelation that security costs for Rudy Giuliani's trysts with Judith Nathan were spread to obscure New York accounts exposes the former mayor to harsh questions his campaign wanted badly to avoid -- about character, truthfulness and a penchant for secrecy.
Conservatives who were already troubled by Giuliani's support for abortion rights and gay rights have further reason to wonder about the thrice-married candidate's morality.
People who argue Giuliani overplays his anti-terrorism experience can wonder whether it was security -- or protection from prying eyes -- he was receiving in the Hamptons.
And voters wary of the Bush administration's secrecy might be concerned about a candidate who, at minimum, surrounds himself with people who refused to answer questions when confronted with evidence suggesting the security costs were being squirreled away.
Throughout his candidacy, Giuliani has sought blanket absolution for his foibles by conceding generic "mistakes" and highlighting his bond to Nathan, now his wife. He has also stated to potential supporters, as he did in his first campaign commercial, "they're not going to find perfection" in his candidacy.
EDWARDS' PLEDGE TO COUNTIES: Former Sen. John Edwards pledged a new partnership with the nation's counties if he wins the White House, including a commitment to more than double federal spending on special education over the next few years.
Edwards made his remarks to an audience of several hundred officials from Iowa's 99 counties.
CLINTON ENDORSEMENTS: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton was endorsed for president Thursday by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and scion of one of the nation's most prominent political families. Kennedy's father, Robert F. Kennedy, was a New York senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination when he was assassinated in 1968.
Clinton also collected the endorsement of the 180,000-member Amalgamated Transit Union on Thursday.
ROMNEY ENDORSEMENT: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was endorsed Thursday by David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a longtime Republican strategist. Unlike the last two presidential elections, when conservatives united early behind George W. Bush, the support of the GOP's conservative base has been divided among the party's top-tier candidates.
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