Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican who guided his city amid the chaos of the September 11 attacks, has taken a step towards a possible run in the 2008 presidential election.
Giuliani has filed papers to set up a committee to explore a possible candidacy, although an aide said Monday he had yet to make up his mind.
"Mayor Giuliani has not made a decision yet," his treasurer, John Gross, said in a statement.
"With the filing of this document, we have taken the necessary legal steps so an organization can be put in place and money can be raised to explore a possible presidential run in 2008," Gross said.
Giuliani is the second prominent Republican to have set up an exploratory panel, following Senator John McCain, who Sunday said he would decide whether he would run early next year.
Giuliani said in Pennsylvania Sunday that he would decide "sometime next year."
The announcement of the exploratory committee's creation came days after Republicans lost their majority in the House and Senate to Democrats in the November 7 elections, in which Giuliani had campaigned for fellow Republicans.
"Rudy has traveled the country campaigning tirelessly on behalf of Republican candidates and has had the opportunity to speak with Americans on a wide variety of issues," Giuliani adviser Anthony Carbonetti said in a statement.
"They have been encouraging him to run for president, and this filing affords him the opportunity to raise money and put together an organisation to assist him in making his decision," he said.
A CNN poll last month showed Giuliani as the leading Republican candidate with 29 per cent, followed closely by McCain with 27 per cent.
Others being mooted as possible Republican hopefuls include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Newt Gingrich, who led the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and served as speaker.