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.
A good first step would be for him to sit down with conservative bloggers. At the same time, he should reach out to hosts of successful talk radio programs. He should agree to appear on Hugh Hewitt‘s show for a full three hours (or as long as Hugh will have him). Given Rudy’s conservative judicial philosophy — and the importance Hugh attaches to appointing good judges — they should find much common ground. (Both men served in the Reagan Justice Department.)
As he reaches out to conservative media, Rudy should also talk to those interest groups who might oppose him because of his relative social liberalism. He should try to meet with the leaders of all the major social conservative groups, including some I would rather he ignore, such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Again, he needs focus on their areas of common ground.
And he should start talking to conservative Governors and other grassroots leaders across the nation. Perhaps he should make clear that he sees his Vice-presidential pick as a chance to bring the party together.
Were Rudy not so liberal on social issues, conservatives would be rallying around his candidacy as they did that of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Both men had, at the times they announced their presidential bids, a proven record of leadership and a commitment to the basic principles of our party on economic and judicial issues as well as foreign policy.
With his record of leadership — and his support even among those not entirely in sync with him on social issues — Rudy Giuliani has the capacity to unite our nation and our party. To get the chance to unite the nation, he must first rally the party’s conservative base to his side. The best way for him to do that, is to follow up on his efforts on behalf of Republican candidates in the past three election cycles, to reach out to the party’s conservatives. And emphasize their areas of common ground.
Rudy Giuliani may be to the left of the conservative base on a number of social issues, but on the issues where it really matters, Rudy Giuliani is a true blue Reagan conservative. And a proven leader. He would lead this nation as he led its largest city, making its people more secure, its economy more prosperous and its future brighter. And he’ll help us overcome the bitter political divisions of the sixteen years preceding his election.
Rudy has the capacity to make us proud, but first he needs convince conservative Republicans of his commitment to our principles. That must be one of the primary goals of his Presidential Exploratory Committee. And one your humble blogger would be delighted to support, both with his words on this blog and a financial contribution from his pocket.
B. Daniel Blatt (AKA GayPatriotWest)
UPDATE: Looks like Mary Matalin agress with me as she advices the former NYC Mayor to “Try to keep focus on constitutionalist judges.”
She also offers advice on how he can deal with the problems in his personal life: “concede transgressions and pivot to relevance — ‘Do you want this race to be about my past (life) or your future (life)?’” (Via Real Clear Politics.)