ATLANTA - When former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Isakson on Tuesday, it showed a rift in how the two major parties in Georgia view endorsements from political stars from outside the state.
Republicans say their growing popularity in Georgia lets them bring in top names from across the nation - raising money for their candidates while energizing their core supporters.
Democrats, meanwhile, say they're happy keeping leaders of the national party at arm's length. They say moderate Georgia Democrats have never been in lockstep with some of their more liberal national counterparts and that independent-minded Peach State voters don't respond well to outside endorsements anyway.
Mr. Giuliani, who gained national fame after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, spoke at a lunchtime fund-raiser for Mr. Isakson in Macon. The event was expected to raise about $75,000 for the Republican congressman's campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Denise Majette for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Zell Miller.
"When Americans think of individuals who epitomize the virtues of leadership and courage in public service, Rudy Giuliani is at the top of the list," Mr. Isakson said in a statement.
Among the other Republicans who have come to Georgia to stump for Mr. Isakson are Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Democrats, meanwhile, said they doubt Mr. Giuliani's visit will have any impact on the race - which most polls show Mr. Isakson leading.
"The bottom line is that it doesn't work bringing outsiders into Georgia, and it never will," said Rick Dent, a spokesman for Rep. Denise Majette, Mr. Isakson's Democratic opponent.
"Voters don't like being told who to vote for by anybody, and they certainly don't like it when outsiders tell them what to do," he said.
There's some truth to that, said Mike Digby, a political scientist at Georgia College and State University.
"Bringing in big-name speakers is not going to have a profound effect on the campaign," said Mike Digby, the chairman of the department of government and sociology at Georgia College and State University. "It's not going to persuade a whole lot of voters either way."
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