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Rudy's Primary Problem

April 25, 2006

As the 2008 Republican primaries draw near, the field of GOP presidential hopefuls is making its quadrennial journey to the extreme right. As USA Today, the New Republic, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, The Hill and even the Daily Show have reported, John McCain has already begun the trip to the "crazy base world" of the Republicans' religious right. But for Rudy Giuliani, the process of courting Christian conservatives is turning out to be a real drag.
Jerry 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.
UPDATE: A new documentary titled "Giuliani Time" offers a harsh look at Rudy's tenure while mayor of New York. Regardless, his troubles won't be on display on the silver screen, but south of the Mason-Dixon line.

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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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