Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican presidential contender acclaimed for his leadership after the September 11 attacks, took a largely symbolic step closer to an official White House run on Monday.
Giuliani refiled papers with the Federal Election Commission establishing a committee to explore a presidential bid, which allows him to raise money, travel and hire staff.
"It's a big step," Giuliani told reporters in New York. "It's faster than we anticipated, but we still have to think about a formal announcement."
The new paperwork removed the phrase "testing the waters" from the statement of candidacy Giuliani originally filed in November. An FEC spokesman said the move had no real legal significance.
Giuliani said the move put him in the same position as rivals like Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"If I were going to bet like you bet on the Super Bowl ... I would bet that we are going ahead," he said, before declining to give an announcement date except to say it would be "sooner rather than later."
The move could be timed to calm growing doubts among Republicans about whether he is serious about a White House run in 2008. While Giuliani leads eight other Republican in many national polls, there has been growing speculation he might not run.