Rudy Giuliani either has given up attempting to sound conservative or has forgotten that all presidential primary politics is national in today’s media environment. While trying to woo Californians, Rudy claimed that he would govern in the same manner as Arnold Schwarzenegger has in the Golden State — a promise that may not thrill Republicans in or out of California:
Mayor Giuliani is telling California voters wondering what kind of president he would make that they need to look no further than their popular Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I governed very much like your governor does,” Mr. Giuliani said as he described his tenure as mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001. “I got results and I want people to look at that and say that’s the way I would govern as president of the United States. I would get results,” he said.
In a deft bit of political footwork, Mr. Giuliani managed to declare himself simpatico with the governor without actually specifying any of the issues where the two men hold similar views. Some of those stances, such as support for abortion rights and gay rights, antagonize large swaths of the Republican base in the Golden State and across the country.
Rudy has spent a lot of time and effort to burnish his conservative credentials on the campaign trail. He has tried to argue that his position on abortion represents a small area of disagreement in comparison to a wide range on agreement with conservatives, with middling success. Giuliani argues — and George Will supports him on this point — that Giuliani provided the most conservative government possible in New York City, and he’s almost certainly correct.
However, Rudy threatens to undermine that by hitching his wagon to the Governator. Arnold has done very well for himself in California, but no one confuses him with a conservative, not even the state’s GOP. He has opted to work closer with the Democrats and has become the same kind of big-government Republican that many accuse George Bush of popularizing.
In California, as in New York City, that’s the only kind of Republican that can get elected to an executive office. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the Republicans around the country want to elect them, however, and Rudy may be making a mistake by reinforcing the impression that he’s so far out of step with conservatives in the party. He could find himself positioned well for a general election that he’ll never reach.
Addendum: The Democrats have decided to really get personal and nasty early in this campaign. Josh Gerstein reports that a group of them protested outside Rudy’s event — by pointing out that Rudy married his second cousin. They couldn’t even get within six months of a primary without getting classless.