Like Roger Simon, I am happy that former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has set up a Presidential Exploratory Committee allowing him to raise money for a White House bid. (Now, I’m trying to figure out if I can donate both to the Exploratory Committee and later to his presidential campaign when that good man makes his candidacy official.) Roger likes Rudy “because he appears able to lead . . . [and] seems not particularly bound by party and ideological cant.”
He has solid record as Mayor of the nation’s largest city which preceded 9/11. That crisis may have tested his mettle, but he had already proved his stuff long before the terrorist attack. He held the line on city spending, stood up to the public employee unions and lowered the crime rate, making New York a more livable city than it was in 1993 when he took over. In the early nineties, people speculated that the city’s decline was irreversible. Mayor Rudy Giuliani proved them wrong.
As a conservative mayor of a liberal city, Giuliani has the stuff to unite our nation. And to lead. Yet, given his stands on social issues, including abortion and gay rights as well as his support of gun control, some conservatives are telling Rudy to “Forget It,” claiming he has “no chance of winning the Republican nomination” (Via Powerline).
Other conservatives disagree. The American Spectator‘s Philip Klein writes that “a Giuliani victory would be difficult, not impossible.” I think Rudy’s going to prove his conservative naysayers wrong just as he proved wrong those who said the Big Apple’s decline was inevitable. To do that, Klein believes the former Mayor needs “to find a way to make conservatives comfortable with his candidacy.” He outlines how Rudy can do that, by emphasizing economic issues and “promising to appoint judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.”
By stumping the country for conservative candidates, while Giuliani showed his commitment to helping Republicans to his right, he also showed that many voters to his right have great respect for his leadership abilities — and support him despite their policy differences. As I noted in a recent post, “In the heartland, GOP faithful seem more interested in his stand on national security than his positions of social issues.”
In order to build on the respect he already enjoys and to make conservatives, as Klein puts it, “more comfortable with his candidacy,” Giuliani needs to continue to reach out to conservatives, particularly social conservatives, to make clear they agree more than they disagree. His judicial background would be a great place to show his conservative record. When Giuliani was just 37, Ronald Reagan tapped him as Associate Attorney General, the third highest position in the Department of Justice. Two years later, in 1983, he began his tenure as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York where he convicted mob bosses as well as corrupt politicians, earning a record for being tough on crime.
In the next six months, before Giuliani officially announces his candidacy for president, he can do a number of things to reassure the base that he is a conservative and to make clear that he may differ with some on certain issues, his door will be open to all those groups who form the GOP base.