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On eve of caucuses, Giuliani skips Iowa

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  • Giuliani calls for renewed push to hunt down Osama bin Laden
  • GOP presidential hopeful wants to increase number of troops in Afghanistan
  • Giuliani is national front-runner but trailing in Iowa and New Hampshire
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WOLFEBORO, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Lagging in the polls in Iowa, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani skipped ahead to New Hampshire Wednesday to call for a renewed push against al Qaeda and its fugitive leader, Osama bin Laden.

Giuliani called for doubling the number of American combat troops in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military has recently raised concerns about a resurgence of al Qaeda's Taliban allies.

Officials from U.S. allies Britain and Australia have warned the American-led coalition is losing ground in the six-year-old war, launched after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

"I believe acting now will help us in the effort to find bin Laden," he said. "It will help us in the effort to make sure that we solidify the gains we made in 2001 and 2002 in routing al Qaeda and routing the Taliban, and I believe it will act as a way to assist in stabilizing the entire region."Video Watch Giuliani call for a renewed push again al Qaeda »

Wednesday's swing through New Hampshire was aimed at refocusing attention on his signature issue after a slide in recent polls.

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Giuliani, who has made his response to the attack on New York the cornerstone of his presidential campaign, said Afghanistan needs a "surge" of troops like the one President Bush ordered to Iraq a year ago to pacify Baghdad and its surrounding provinces.

Most other Republican and Democratic candidates spent Wednesday concentrating on Iowa, which holds the first contest of the 2008 presidential campaign on Thursday. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found Giuliani running fifth there, tied with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 8 percent.

In New Hampshire, a CNN/WMUR poll Wednesday found Giuliani running third, with 12 percent support, six days before next week's primary.

But despite his recent skid, Giuliani still appears at or near the top of national polls -- and his campaign is looking past early contests toward the delegate-rich "Super Tuesday" states that hold primaries February 5, an aide said.

U.S. commanders, particularly senior Army officers, have warned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put a severe strain on the American military. Giuliani said he would call for the military to add 10 combat brigades -- between 35,000 and 50,000 troops.

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He also pointed to the December 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, as a sign the threat of terrorism "is not over." He compared the threat posed by al Qaeda to the enemies the United States faced in World War II, saying, "I think it wouldn't be unfair to describe us as the 9/11 generation."

"Osama bin Laden is just the latest in a long line -- or at least a line -- of dictators and terrorists and bullies and people in that category who somehow hear all this division that we have and think that it is a sign of weakness," Giuliani said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dan Lothian contributed to this report.

All About Rudolph GiulianiNew HampshireOsama bin LadenTerrorism

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