WASHINGTON (AP) – Rudy Giuliani is using his fundraising advantage among Republican presidential candidates to expand his campaign organizations beyond early nominating contests and into bigger, more expensive states like Florida and California.

Giuliani campaign manager Michael DuHaime, in a teleconference with reporters, said the former New York mayor’s fundraising – he hauled in $15 million for the primaries during the last three months – has given him the flexibility to establish a presence in a dozen states.

“We’re very confident right now that we are in a very, very strong place,” DuHaime said.

The expansion represents a competing view of how to succeed in the primary contests and exposes a potential weakness for Giuliani in the early January contests, particularly in Iowa where he decided to forgo a popular political straw poll next month.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has campaign organizations in a few states and has already spent heavily on advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, faced with weaker fundraising, was forced to scale back his organization this week. He has narrowed his strategy to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Giuliani was campaigning in Florida on Thursday. Campaign aides said Giuliani has made 11 trips to Florida and another 11 to California. He has made only five visits to New Hampshire and four to Iowa. Florida and California, however, are popular stops in the fundraising circuit; Iowa and New Hampshire are not.

Florida’s primary is set for Jan. 29. California is Feb. 5, along with New York, New Jersey and some 15 more states.

In Daytona Beach, Giuliani visited American Industrial Plastics, which makes parts for the aerospace, medical technology and oil drilling industries, to make the point that President Bush’s tax cuts have helped companies and should be made permanent.

“AIP is a living example of the wisdom of tax cuts and the last thing in the world we need in 2008 is somebody sitting in the White House that’s going to take us back to the taxes that we had during the Clinton era,” Giuliani said in a speech to AIP employees. “That’s essentially what the Democrats want to do.”

Meanwhile, DuHaime portrayed Giuliani as the Republican most likely to beat a Democrat in the general election by holding his own in states that have traditionally fallen in the Democratic column.

DuHaime said television advertising is the most expensive in some of those places – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago – and Democrats in recent years have not had to spend much money in those markets.

“Mayor Giuliani puts those in play. So the more money Democrats have to spend, and I know they can raise a lot of money – we’ve seen that. The more money they have to spend defending that turf, that’s less money for Ohio, less money for Florida, less money for swing states like Iowa. Mayor Giuliani changes this map,” DuHaime said.

He played down the fundraising advantage Democrats have displayed in the first six months of the year. Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards together raised $62 million in primary money in the second quarter of the year, compared with $40 million raised by Giuliani, Romney and McCain.

“The bottom line is we know when the mayor wins the primary, there’s going to be an awful lot of money that comes forward,” DuHaime said.

The campaign’s argument that Giuliani is the most electable candidate comes as Romney has been making inroads in public opinion polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Giuliani’s stance in support of abortion rights and moderate-to-liberal views on other social issues are some of the very qualities that could attract independent voters in a general election. They are also stands that could hurt him in caucus and primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.

AP reporter Brendan Farrington contributed to this story from Daytona Beach.

AP-ES-07-05-07 1910EDT