Rudy Giuliani, the one-time Republican presidential frontrunner now struggling to keep up with his competitors, used a Christmas visit to a children's shelter in Harlem to offer one small piece of good news he is free of the prostate cancer that forced him to put his national political ambitions on hold seven years ago.
The 63-year-old former New York mayor insisted he was in good health despite a scare last week when he was forced to suspend his schedule and spend the night in a Missouri hospital after experiencing what his aides first described as "flu-like symptoms" and then said was a severe headache.
"I'm perfectly healthy. I don't have cancer," Mr Giuliani told reporters jammed into the Hale House shelter, where he has read a Christmas story to children every year since he first became mayor 14 years ago. Mr Giuliani said he was tested three weeks ago and the PSA levels in his prostate an indicator of cancer were "zero or negligible".
"I knew I didn't have cancer," Mr Giuliani said, "but I wanted to be sure."
His statement was unlikely to allay concerns his doctors are expected to make a fuller public assessment later this week or about the state of his campaign more generally. He has lost ground across the country, for what is increasingly being seen as a one-note campaign focused on his performance after the September 11 attacks, and for a risky political strategy essentially writing off the first two contests, the Iowa caucus on 3 January and the New Hampshire primary, which takes place five days later.
Mr Giuliani clearly lost his nerve about New Hampshire earlier this month, as he launched an expensive 11th-hour advertising campaign there that has done nothing to stop the slide in his support. Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has caught up with him in polls nationally, and the Christian conservative darling Mike Huckabee is way ahead in the early contests.Reuse content