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July 8, 2006
Rudy Running?

Robert Novak hears the talk around the campfire, and the chatter says that Rudy Giuliani, America's Mayor, will run for the presidency in 2008. Novak says that the road will be difficult for one of the nation's most admired men:

Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

The former mayor of New York was on top of last month's national Gallup poll measuring presidential preferences by registered Republicans, with 29 percent. Sen. John McCain's 24 percent was second, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich third at 8 percent. National polls all year have shown Giuliani running either first or second to McCain, with the rest of the presidential possibilities far behind.

Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his position on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Party strategists calculate that if he actually runs, he must change on at least one of these issues.

Rudy supports a right to abortion, gay marriage, and gun control, just in case no one could figure that out from Novak's thinly-veiled verbiage. It will make it quite difficult for Rudy to win in the primaries outside of New England, and it's doubtful that he will gain much by making a complete change on any of those positions. What's more likely to work is a philosophical explanation of his stances, followed by a pledge to work with the party to meet its goals in some type of big-tent fashion.

For instance, Giuliani could affirm that he believes a woman should have the option of an abortion if she chooses. However, he could take the position that this should not come through judicial fiat but through legislative action in the states, allowing the voters to determine the legality of abortion and its circumstances. In doing so, he can then pledge to appoint strict constructionist justices to the appellate and Supreme courts. He could also take a similar position on gay marriage.

Gun control would be a tougher nut to crack. Of the three issues Novak mentions, this is the only one with an explicit guarantee in the Constitution, and yet it's the one right that liberals attack. It will be hard to square that impulse with the conservative base no matter what philosophical or utilitarian arguments Rudy might offer, and a pro-gun Democrat could steal the South in the general election, even if Rudy won the nomination. Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee in 2000, and the election as a result, largely on this one issue.

I like Rudy Giuliani; in fact, I admire him tremendously. Many Republicans feel the same way, and that admiration undoubtedly gives him a tremendous boost. However, admiration does not equate to guaranteed political support. It does cover some gray area, and the comparison to John McCain shows that to some extent. McCain's professed political beliefs align much more closely to the conservative base, but the truth is that few of us trust him any more. We trust Giuliani more because Rudy sticks to his word and his allies.

In the end, though, if the race came down to these two men, McCain would likely beat Giuliani in the primaries, because the base will not turn a blind eye to someone who opposes so many of their key positions -- even if he has earned the admiration and respect of all involved. Fortunately for the GOP, we expect to see many more candidates throw their hat into the ring, such as George Allen and others who give conservatives a real choice in the primaries.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 8, 2006 10:13 AM

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» President 2008 Watch: Rudy Giuliani IS Running from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Rudy is running. Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. And he will beat John McCain and then Hillary. But, Capt... [Read More]

Tracked on July 8, 2006 2:27 PM


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