NYC Mayoral candidate Republican Joe Lhota arrives for a debate...

NYC Mayoral candidate Republican Joe Lhota arrives for a debate against Democratic nominee Bill deBlasio at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan. (Oct. 22, 2013) Credit: Craig Ruttle

Joe Lhota planned to campaign on Staten Island Friday with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose legacy has been a flash point in the mayoral contest between the Republican candidate and Democrat Bill de Blasio.

Lhota, who served Giuliani as budget director and deputy mayor from 1994 to 2001, has firmly embraced his former boss' record in the closing days of the campaign, dismissing de Blasio's attacks deriding their years in City Hall as the most divisive in the city's history.

Lhota -- trailing de Blasio by about 40 points in recent polls -- said Giuliani is likely to also campaign with him on Monday.

A September Marist poll showed that Giuliani's support would make 51 percent of voters less likely to vote for Lhota. But the Republican saw the joint appearances as a plus.

"Rudy will help me significantly with voters," Lhota told reporters. "Come out tomorrow and see how much he's loved."

Lhota gave two reasons why Giuliani has not joined him more often: "It wasn't necessary" and "He's been out of the country on business."

The former mayor is a partner in the international law firm Bracewell & Giuliani.

Lhota added, "He's made phone calls for me. He's been a prolific fundraiser for me. He's been doing everything that we've asked him to do."

Giuliani could not be reached for comment.

While noting that he and Giuliani are "very different," Lhota has credited his former boss with sparking the city's renaissance and cutting crime rates.

In a pre-primary debate, he also tried to draw a distinction: "I have always been known as a uniter. You talk to people in the African-American community and the Latino community."

Meanwhile, Lhota released an ad Thursday titled "Promise" -- his first directly speaking to voters. He again warned that "We are one bad mayor away from unsafe streets, failing schools and fiscal chaos."

"I've been tested during difficult times and I am ready to lead," he said, noting his stewardship of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority after superstorm Sandy.

Late Thursday, de Blasio greeted voters in the Bronx and said his "army" of volunteers will be out in full force during the campaign's final days. "We're running like we're behind," he added.

With Emily Ngo

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