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Giuliani: No decision yet on extending term

Mayor Rudy Giuliani: "I'm not ready to make a statement now."  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- On the eve of a delayed primary that begins the process of choosing his successor, Mayor Rudy Giuliani Monday sought to put a damper on speculation he is devising a strategy to serve a third term in office, but did not explicitly rule it out.

His popularity soaring to new heights over his response to the September 11 terrorist attack that devastated the 110-story World Trade Center, killing thousands, Giuliani was asked at a news conference if he was re-evaluating his plans for the future.

"I have not had time to think about it, and until I have time to think about it, I really can't talk about it," the mayor said.

The mayoral primary -- which had been scheduled for the day of the attack -- was postponed for two weeks.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa has more on the future of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (September 24)

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The city charter bars the mayor from serving a third consecutive term, but pundits have been speculating Giuliani might encourage a move by the legislature to remove that ban before the November general election. Or perhaps, take on another high-profile role.

"It is true that I have a future; I just don't know what it is yet," Giuliani said. "As soon as I have time, I will think about it, and I'll talk to the people that I trust the most and get their advice, and then I'll make a statement. But I'm not ready to make a statement now."

Giuliani's message to New Yorkers torn about who should be their next mayor:

"My advice to them is to vote and to choose among the candidates who are there," Giuliani said. "It would make no sense to write my name in."

Even a November victory on a write-in vote would not clear the way for Giuliani to serve another term unless the city charter is changed in a way that would be awkward, at best, in the middle of the political campaign.

The city's charter would allow Giuliani, a Republican, to run again in four years. But it would take intervention by the state legislature and Gov. George Pataki to overturn the charter and allow the mayor to run now.

In a poll released Thursday by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, voters gave the mayor a 91 percent favorable job performance rating but were 57 percent opposed to eliminating existing term limits.

New Yorkers have twice voted to impose term limits.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, said he doubted the legislature would overturn term limits to allow Giuliani to run again.

"Even if we did, he could not suddenly become a candidate for mayor," Silver said last week.

Even without term limits, Silver said, Giuliani has already missed every deadline for filing as either as a Republican or Democrat.

The city council could act unilaterally to remove the ban on a third consecutive term, but the council's speaker is current mayoral candidate Peter Vallone -- a Democrat -- and Giuliani has vetoed two earlier attempts by Vallone to alter the city charter's prohibition on term limits.

The other Democratic candidates besides Vallone are Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, and Public Advocate Mark Green.

The two Republicans are former U.S. representative Herman Badillo and Michael Bloomberg, head of a global communications company that bears his name.

Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who served 12 years in office before the ban was enacted, told CNN Monday he supports the lifting of term limits but does not think Giuliani's term should be extended.

"They didn't do that for Abraham Lincoln or for FDR," Koch told CNN. "That would be very, very anti-democratic and that would never fly."

But Koch said none of the candidates to succeed Giuliani has the experience needed to take office at a time of crisis like the one the city now faces.

"We need someone who has come through the experience of running a city rather than having to give the new mayor the six or eight months it takes to learn the ropes," he said.

"I don't think we have the time to waste a single day, because the catastrophe that we have is like no other."

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