Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is “too busy” to run for governor of New York or to challenge Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat in 2006.

To find out what’s keeping him so busy, and why he’s unlikely to be running for President in 2008, we turn to the New York Observer’s front-page story, “Really Rich Rudy”:

… on Feb. 9 in Columbia, S.C. Mr. Giuliani had initially been booked by the South Carolina Hospital Association through the Washington Speakers Bureau to speak for his usual $100,000 fee. But then a massive tsunami devastated South Asia and “we just didn’t feel that a big old party was the right thing,“ said Patti Smoake, the hospital association’s spokeswoman.

Instead, the South Carolinians held a fund-raiser called “From South Carolina to South Asia.”

Mr. Giuliani agreed to speak at the new event. He even wrote a $20,000 check to the Red Cross, the event’s beneficiary, according to figures cited by a South Carolina hospital official and obtained by The Observer. He batted away the inevitable political speculation that accompanied his visit to the crucial Republican primary state, telling a local reporter he was visiting “because I enjoy coming to South Carolina and because this is a worthy cause.”

Mr. Giuliani didn’t mention it at the time, but he also walked away from the tsunami benefit with $80,000 at a time when celebrities from Bill Clinton and the first President Bush to George Clooney were donating time to the relief effort. There was nothing illegal, or even particularly unusual, about his taking a fee from a charity event. But taking the money was not the move of a man whose political future depends on the good will of the voters of South Carolina, the decisive state in the 2000 Republican primary widely viewed as the immovable object between a socially liberal Republican like Mr. Giuliani and the nomination.

Mr. Giuliani’s spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, told The Observer that the former Mayor gave generously to tsunami relief after the wave hit in December, and confirmed that he’d given money again in South Carolina, though she wouldn’t discuss the amount. Mr. Hess said Mr. Giuliani’s contribution was twice what the Hospital Association had suggested.

Now, let’s see… Twice $20,000 is…

What a nice guy. (Via Gadflyer)