Friday, May 11

Giuliani's Gamble


Rudolph W. Giuliani directly challenged Republican Party orthodoxy on Friday, asserting that his support for abortion rights, gun control and gay rights should not disqualify him from winning the party’s presidential nomination and that Republicans need to be tolerant of dissenting views on those issues if they want to hold the White House.

In a forceful summation of the substantive and political case for his candidacy, delivered to a conservative audience at Houston Baptist College, Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, acknowledged that his views on social issues were out of line with many Republican primary voters.

But Mr. Giuliani argued that there were even greater matters at stake in the election, starting with which party would better protect the nation from terrorism. Mr. Giuliani suggested that his record in New York -- leading the city after the attacks of Sept. 11 and overseeing a decline in violent crime during his eight years in office – made him the most electable of the Republican candidates, no matter his stand on social issues like abortion.

“If we don’t find a way of uniting around broad principles that will appeal to a large segment of this country, if we can’t figure that out, we are going to lose this election,” he said.


Mr. Giuliani’s speech came a week after he gave a convoluted answer to questions at a debate about his view on abortion rights, setting off a storm of criticism by conservative groups and raising questions. On Friday, he offered a lengthy explanation of his view on abortions, saying he personally opposed it but that government should not prohibit it, while acknowledging that views differed from many of those in the audience.

“Where people of good faith, people who are equally decent, equally moral and equally religious, when they come to different conclusions about this, about something so very very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint,” he said. “You give them a level of choice here.” Mr. Giuliani asserted that his differences with his audience on gun control and gay rights were probably less sharp. He defended his advocacy for tough gun control measures while he was mayor of New York, but said that was central to his strategy to reduce crime in the city. He described himself as an advocate of a view of the 2nd Amendment which holds that it permits citizens to bear arms. Mr. Giuliani said that he supported allowing gay and lesbians to enter into domestic partnerships, but opposed allowing them to marry.

Mr. Giuliani’s speech appeared to reflect two calculations by his campaign. The first was that Republicans were so alarmed at the prospect of losing the White House, particularly after Democrats took over Congress last year, that they would be willing to overlook differences on issues like abortion. The second is that voters often reward politicians who disagree with them on issues for candor and independence.

He drew a standing ovation from his audience, many of whom, in interviews after the remarks, praised Mr. Giuliani for what they described as his candor in presenting his position on difficult issues. But leaders of some evangelical and conservative groups quickly denounced Mr. Giuliani and predicted that it would lead to his downfall.


The Electronic Futures Markets today still have Giulini over McCain, but that's already changing. We'll see how much...


Rudy Giuliani 28.40 -2.600
John McCain 27.00 +3.400
Mitt Romney 18.60 +0.600
Fred Thompson 14.90


Hillary Clinton 50.20 +2.500
Barack Obama 28.00 -2.200
Al Gore 10.30 +0.000
John Edwards 7.70


Democrats 56.10 -0.300 60.30 +0.000
Republicans 42.80 -0.100 39.00 +0.000


Hillary Clinton D 31.40
Barack Obama D 16.10
Rudy Giuliani R 16.00
John McCain R 10.20


ADDENDUM: maybe nobody knows what Rudy's doing...

From Frank Rich, SLATE.COM

The Times offers a helpful interactive timeline of "Giuliani on Abortion." In 1989, he was for public funding. In 1993, he called choice a constitutional right. In 2000, he opposed a ban on late-term abortions. Last month, he divorced himself from his previous stands on public funding and late-term. This month, he sought to annul his position on choice as a constitutional right. Now he's of three minds: Abortion is "morally wrong," women should be able to make their own choice, and so should conservative judges.

Giuliani's decision to buck his party on abortion would be refreshing and courageous, if he hadn't already tried so hard to have it both ways on the issue. He tells conservative audiences not to worry about his pro-choice record because he personally "hates" abortion and will appoint judges like Scalia, Roberts, and Alito. He boasts that during his tenure as mayor, abortions dropped 16 percent—but doesn't mention that abortions nationwide dropped 15 percent over the same period or that New York City still has an abortion rate three times the national average.

The Giuliani campaign trotted out the perfect man to vouch for the mayor's credentials: Steve Forbes, who was pro-choice in his first presidential bid and pro-life in his second. "Thanks to Giuliani's success on welfare reform, where rolls were cut 60%, the abortion rate in New York City fell faster than the national average," Forbes told RealClearPolitics. "Rudy may be pro-choice—and I happen to be pro-life—but the policies he pursued help the pro-life cause."