WASHINGTON -- Rudy Giuliani is definitely not not running. Maybe.
That's about all he's sure of at the moment.
Giuliani was at pains in an interview Friday to slow down the fast train of speculation -- which had gathered steam based on his speech in New Hampshire Friday night, and by a mini-media blitz of interviews like this one, and breathless comments by supporters -- about whether he'll run again for president in 2012.
"I'm not here to make a decision or even to process information about making a decision," Giuliani told The Huffington Post from New Hampshire by phone a short time before his speech to a Republican group in Manchester.
"Other people have said that I'm thinking seriously about a run. I never said that. All I've said is I haven't crossed it off as a possibility," he said. "Other people may be thinking about it more seriously than I am."
That may be true, as one source close to Giuliani said he was "seriously considering" a run.
But there were signs during his interview with HuffPost that Giuliani was simply tapping the brakes on a car that's already out of the garage. Every other word that came out of the former New York City mayor's mouth seemed to be positioning himself in case he does run.
And why not? There hasn't been a Republican presidential primary this wide open since probably 1964.
In addition, foreign policy -- which is considered to be Giuliani's strongest policy area in large part because of his leadership in New York after 9/11 -- has shot off the back burner in the last two months because of unrest in the Middle East, the tragic earthquake in Japan, and the situation in Libya.
Giuliani is not the only Republican to sense an opportunity in President Obama's fumbling response to Libya. Obama called for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to leave on March 3, but then did little to make that happen until France and Britain dragged the U.S. into approving the use of force by international forces in Libya at the UN Security Council.
"What is emerging more and more as an issue -- but it still doesn't in any way match the economy -- is the way the president handles our national security and foreign policy, where he seems to be seeking the lead of other people rather than having any ideas of his own," Giuliani said.
"He doesn't seem to have thought through the implications of having demanded Gaddafi's ouster. The implications of that should have been thought out before he said it, and if he said it, he should have been willing to back it up immediately with American military force," Giuliani said. "If he didn't want to use American military force, it would have been better for everyone, including him, if he had been able to exercise the discipline to keep his mouth shut."
As for his tumultuous personal past, Giuliani is lucky in that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is blazing a trail ahead of him on the personal baggage front.
Giuliani has been married three times and embarrassed himself with rumors of infidelity during his time as mayor and a very messy divorce from the mother of his two now grown children. But Gingrich, who is close to officially declaring himself a candidate, has also been married three times and was unfaithful to his first and second wives.
Giuliani argued -- using Gingrich as an example -- that every Republican candidate has baggage, putting his personal indiscretions of the past on the same level politically as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's health care plan, which is very unpopular with conservatives.
"The candidates who have run before -- and I'm talking about others, not necessarily me, but this would probably include me too -- the candidates who have run before all have baggage," Giuliani said. "Romney fits in somewhat the same category as Newt. Romney has a lot of strong things that would argue in his favor: governor of Massachusetts, a real expert on business and the economy."
But Giuliani said Romney has "got big baggage."
"I mean, RomneyCare, particularly for Republicans, is a major issue," he said.
"Sometimes the American people vote for presidents that allegedly have a lot of baggage, because they realize -- what is it? -- the devil you know is better than the one you don't know? Something like that," Giuliani said with a chuckle.
He said that former President Ronald Reagan had "a lot of baggage" because he was thought of as too old, too conservative, and because he was a former actor who some thought was not smart enough to be president.
"So we have examples of electing presidents who have been through the mill, and then sometimes electing presidents who come along, like Jimmy Carter, or Barack Obama, and have not had much experience, and we elect them on hope," Giuliani said.
Giuliani ignored Carter's four years as governor of Georgia in comparing him to Obama. But it's another indication that in addition to painting Obama as an ivory tower, big government meddler and business sector ignoramus, Republicans are increasingly focusing on the president's foreign policy vulnerabilities as they hone their attack messages in advance of 2012.
The former Hizzoner said he's in no rush to decide if he is the one who could deliver that message effectively.
"I'm just putting it off," he said. "There is a nice period in which you can wait ... I have very strong name recognition, so I can wait a little bit longer."
"But I can't wait forever."