Scary Movie 2: Rudy Channels Cheney

With the vice president's health acting up again and his approval rating below even the president's, the Dick Cheney for President movement is hardly catching fire. But it would seem the embattled Veep has at least one admirer in the top ranks of the Republican 2008 contenders: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Tuesday night, Giuliani grabbed headlines by suggesting that electing a Democratic president in 2008 could mean another 9/11. "If one of them gets elected, we are going on defense," Giuliani said. "We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense. The jab was straight out of the Cheney playbook. Recall the vice president's strikingly similar warning about the Democrats in the 2004 campaign: "If we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again, we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set."

Giuliani's presidential campaign is already filled with Cheney-esque echoes. Like the vice president, the former mayor often speaks in low tones and offers few applause lines, focusing instead on grim facts and scary hypotheticals. Like Cheney, Giuliani seems to relish tussles with civil liberties advocates over questions of government powers in time of war. "Giuliani's messaging is '9/11 can happen again,'" says one unaffiliated Republican strategist who does not want to be named characterizing Giuliani's campaign. "Bush did that some but Cheney was the guy who drove the message home. Giuliani cuts out the middle man: He's his own doomsday guy."

The Giuliani camp's response: "For Rudy, how to fight and win the terrorists war on us is not about politics," says Giuliani communications director Katie Levinson. "It is about the stark reality of people wanting to come here and kill us and his long held beliefs about the best way to confront terrorism. Democrats have a different approach and ultimately voters will decide which candidate is best equipped to lead the country."