It seems that half the time I mention that I favor Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 presidential nomination, centrists and Democrats tell me he can’t win the nomination because he’s too liberal. Despite their pessimism about the chances of the former Mayor of New York, I have yet to hear a conservative express such pessisism. Perhaps that’s because I live in LA where one doesn’t find many conservatives who would oppose Rudy on social issues.
Yet, poll after poll shows that my man Rudy leads the GOP pack for 2008, albeit with less than 50%. A libertarian Republican friend, a fellow supporter of Rudy, agrees with me that our man has a good shot at the party’s nod and takes issue with the theory that a pro-choice Republican couldn’t win the nomination. “That theory hasn’t been tested,” he said.
The former New York Mayor has been doing all the right things to reach out to the GOP’s base, campaigning for candidates to his right across the country — and raising money for state parties in very “red” regions of the nation. In the heartland, GOP faithful seem more interested in his stand on national security than his positions of social issues. According to the New York Times (via Captain Ed):
In August, at a fund-raising dinner in Charleston for South Carolina’s very conservative Republican Party, Mr. Giuliani spoke about port security. When the party faithful had a chance to pose questions, they did not ask him about abortion or gays — only reporters did that.
Sound like reporters are more interested in his differences from the GOP base than are rank-and-file Republicans. And it sounds like these Republicans have priorities not too different from my own.
Indeed, in the Times article, only the pundits seem to think Giuliani’s social liberalism will pose a problem to his 2008 candidacy. By and large, rank-and-file Republicans are enthusiastic about the former New York Mayor. One GOP pollster, Frank Luntz, is more sanguine about Rudy’s chances:
The abortion issue will hurt him in Iowa, the gun control position will hurt him in New Hampshire, but both are less important than the character and the attributes of the man . . . . In a senate race, they want to know where you stand on issues. In a presidential campaign, they want to know who you are.
With North Korea’s apparent test of a nuclear weapon and Iran’s efforts to build such a bomb, conservatives may be willing some of to forgive Rudy’s centrist policies in favor of his proven leadership. As Captain Ed puts it, “Given the terrorist threat and the menace from North Korea and Iran, we clearly need someone with significant toughness in the Oval Office.” While that conservative is not yet “sold on Rudy,” he’s “hard pressed to see anyone on either side of the aisle that has Rudy’s toughness and resolve.“
If the test for the 2008 nomination was character and leadership, Rudy Giuliani will have no trouble becoming the next GOP standard-bearer. I have a higher opinion of my party than many and believe that enough social conservatives will overlook Giuliani’s social liberalism and support his bid for the White House. With his record — and his resolve, the former New York Mayor will be able to quiet their conservatives, winning their support, uniting the party and then going on to win the election in the fall of 2008.