WASHINGTON, Oct 4 Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain lashed

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WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain lashed out at Hillary Clinton in attacks that underscored her status as leader of the pack in the Democratic Party's race for 2008.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani, campaigning in New Hampshire, compared Clinton to George McGovern, the liberal 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, for offering an idea last week to give a 5,000 dollarsavings account for college to every baby born in the United States.

''Remember when McGovern did this in '70 -- he was going to send everybody a $1,000 check. ... And she's going to send everybody born in America a 5,000 dollar Hillary baby bond and if you think about that, that's $22 billion of our money she's going to spend,'' Giuliani told conservative commentator Dennis Prager's radio show yesterday.

The Clinton campaign, enjoying a widening lead over her closest rival, has said the baby bond idea was not a firm proposal. A spokesman brushed off the Giuliani attack.

''It's unfortunate that the mayor's entire campaign is premised on attacking others instead of talking about what he would do if elected,'' Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said.

McCain, campaigning in South Carolina, criticized Clinton's stance on the Iraq war, saying she ''wants to have it both ways when it comes to foreign policy.'' ''Senator Clinton voted to cut off the funding. I don't see how you support the troops if you're not willing to fund the mission that they are on,'' the Arizona senator said in remarks at Camden Military Academy in Charleston.

Republicans are trying to use the specter of a Clinton campaign to energize a party fearful of losses in 2008.

EDWARDS CRITICISM Clinton was also criticized by a Democratic rival, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, for refusing to rule out that U.S.

troops might continue to engage in some combat missions in Iraq if she were to win the presidency in November 2008.

''If you're not ending combat missions, you're not ending the war,'' Edwards said in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll showed Clinton pulling away from her Democratic rivals with 53 per cent support, compared with 20 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 13 per cent for Edwards.

That was a 12-point jump for Clinton, a former first lady, and a 7-point drop for Obama since early September.

Trying to create a sense that her nomination is inevitable, the Clinton campaign announced that she had received the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that includes 1.4 million members and retirees.

Giuliani said Clinton would have to raise taxes to pay for her proposals, including a health care plan that has given her campaign momentum.

A Republican rival, former Tennessee Sen Fred Thompson, told Fox News Channel's ''Hannity and Colmes'' that he was worried about fiscal discipline in Washington.

''We are trying to keep our country from going down the road to economic chaos with the kind of locked-in spending programs that we have got that inevitably we have got to do something about,'' he said.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll said Giuliani had a substantial lead among Republicans vying for their party's nomination, of 34 per cent over 17 per cent for Thompson, and put McCain third with 12 per cent support. Former Massachusetts Gov Mitt Romney was fourth with 11 per cent.

Reuters YA DB0911

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