[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/13/art.giulianifla.ap.jpg caption=" Giuliani said winning in Florida is "critical" to his presidential bid."]
(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Sunday that victory in the Florida primary is "critical" to his campaign - but he stopped short of saying a loss in that contest would be a death knell to his campaign.
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," the former New York mayor was asked whether he needs to win in Florida to stay in the race.
"It's fair to say that it's a critical state for us, an important state for us. I don't think any candidate would ever say 'have to,' but... it's real important."
Giuliani had once planned to campaign heavily in other early states, but pulled his ads and paid staff.
"The reality is as these primaries played out, certain people were very strong in some, and you had to look for the opportunity where you had the best chance to demonstrate your strength," he said Sunday. "And it turned out that the analysis was that Florida was the best place for us to do it."
Giuliani - once considered a national front-runner - called the Florida contest "kind of a gate opener to the February 5th primaries." On Feb. 5, known as "Super Tuesday," more than 20 states will hold their nominating contests.