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Rudy '08: Giuliani Takes the Plunger

November 16, 2006

With the mid-term elections only days behind us, the jockeying in the 2008 GOP presidential horse race has already begun. The flood of candidacy announcements and exploratory committees this week includes the predictable (John McCain), the improbable (Tommy Thompson) and the ridiculous (Duncan Hunter).
But this week's most intriguing prospect may be Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and putative hero of 9/11. Polls suggest that Rudy might very well be able to win the general election for the White House. Sadly for Giuliani, it seems almost inconceivable that he could win his party's nomination.

Despite his early strength in surveys among the Republican faithful, Guiliani's past will haunt him during the run to the hard right that is the GOP primary process. Christian conservatives will have no quarrel with the former DA and mayor's tough on crime reputation or strained relationship with African-Americans. (Amadou Diallo, accidently shot 41 times by Rudy's NYPD, and Abner Louima, sodomized with a toilet plunger by renegade New York cops, will soon be household names.) Instead, it is Giuliani's liberal stances on social issues and own past private life that promises to make his journey to "crazy base world" an unpleasant one.
For an example of why 2008 may not be "Giuliani Time," start with Jerry Falwell. Falwell, with whom McCain recently mended fences, came out against the pro-choice, pro-gay rights hero of September 11. Appearing on CNN's Late Edition, Falwell made it clear he and his followers could not back Giuliani:

"But, of course, we have, as conservative Christians who take the Bible seriously, we have probably irreconcilable differences on life and family and that kind of thing. I'll never speak an ill word about him because he means so much to America. But, yes, you're right. I couldn't support him for president."

Rudy's problems with the religious right go well beyond policy differences. To them, Giuliani the tough on crime, rock of 9/11 also embodies a permissive, tolerant lifestyle liberalism they simply cannot countenance. In 2008, the American Taliban and other supposed "values voters" won't forget that Mayor Giuliani briefly lived with gay friends after the dissolution of his marriage or that he agreed to appear in drag on TV's "Queer as Folk" to raise money for 9/11 families.
Joseph Farrah of the extremist WorldNetDaily no doubt summed up the views of many on the radical right when it comes to Giuliani:

"Is America really ready for a drag-queen president? Will Republicans be fooled again and nominate a candidate who favors unrestricted abortion on demand? Should we expect the Grand Old Party to become the Gay Old Party in 2008 and put its stamp of approval on a guy 100 percent committed to the homosexual activist agenda?"

Despite the obstacles to winning over Christian conservatives, Giuliani appears to be trying nonetheless. Newsweek's Howard Fineman described Rudy's recent pilgrimage to the Global Pastors Network meeting in Florida, "He wowed them with his energy and his revival-style witness to his faith in Jesus." Andrew Sullivan took this as a sure sign that Giuliani is moving forward with a planned 2008 campaign, "If Rudy is talking Jesus, he's going to run."
While the religious right views him with disdain, American voters apparently feel otherwise. Giuliani holds an early, narrow lead over John McCain in the race for the 2008 GOP nomination. Polls also show Rudy defeating any Democratic opponent, including John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.
Luckily for Democrats, Giuliani probably doesn't have a prayer in the Republican primaries.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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