Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, the hero of 9-11, is being secretly courted to become President George W. Bush‘s running mate in the November election, The ENQUIRER has learned.

Sources say Republican Party officials want Giuliani, who showed so much leadership and courage during the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, to replace current VP Dick Cheney on the ticket.

They are convinced Rudy is the secret weapon that could defeat Democratic hopefuls John Kerry and John Edwards.

“It’s Rudy’s if he wants it,” a close source told The ENQUIRER. “The GOP floated rumors about Rudy in June to see what the reaction would be — and they found overwhelming support. In early July, top Republican officials approached Rudy secretly to determine if he wants to join President Bush’s ticket.


“Rudy can add a special energy to the ticket right now that Cheney lacks and others mentioned, such as Colin Powell, don’t seem to have. That energy and special love, which the country saw in him during the 9-11 crisis, is something that is much needed for Bush if he wants to gain reelection.”

Cheney’s reputation as a stuffed shirt and his connections to the war-services company, Halliburton, have made him unpopular with many Americans in recent months. Sources say Cheney wants to stay on, but in the end, he’ll do what’s best for the ticket.

Giuliani, meanwhile, is busy in the private sector with his company Bio-ONE, but sources say the opportunity to help his country and help the President is very appealing. He has until August to make up his mind.

“And what better visual than to have Bush introduce Rudy as his No. 2 at the Republican Convention in August in New York City,” said an insider.

Republican activist Bob Tennant agrees that Giuliani is the popular choice for the ticket in 2004.

“He’s the Republican no Democrat could say anything negative about. He saved New York City.” — PAOLA LEVA