Self-Inflicted Wounds

Posted: April 4, 2007 in 2008 Elections, GOP Primaries

You know those polls showing Rudy Giuliani as the current frontrunner in the GOP presidential field? His stock is about to take a dive.

See this teaser for an interview he did with CNN’s Dana Bash:

Giuliani stands by support of publicly-funded abortions

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday he supports public funding for some abortions, a position he advocated as mayor and one that will likely put the GOP presidential candidate at odds with social conservatives in his party.

“Ultimately, it’s a constitutional right, and therefore if it’s a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected,” Giuliani said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in Florida’s capital city.

When asked directly Wednesday if he still supported the use of public funding for abortions, Giuliani said “Yes.”

“If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right,” he explained, “If that’s the status of the law, yes.”

But the presidential candidate reiterated his personal opposition to the practice.

“I’m in the same position now that I was 12 years ago when I ran for mayor — which is, personally opposed to abortion, don’t like it, hate it, would advise that woman to have an adoption rather than abortion, hope to find the money for it,” he said. “But it is your choice, an individual right. You get to make that choice, and I don’t think society should be putting you in jail.”

Giuliani also vowed to appoint conservative judges to the bench, though denied such a promise was a “wink and a nod” to conservatives in support of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion.

“A strict constructionist judge can come to either conclusion about Roe against Wade,” he said. “They can look at it and say, ‘Wrongly decided thirty years ago, whatever it is, we’ll over turn it.’ [Or] they can look at it and say, ‘It has been the law for this period of time, therefore we are going to respect the precedent.’ Conservatives can come to that conclusion as well. I would leave it up to them. I would not have a litmus test on that.”

This interview, along with the YouTube clip of him as mayoral candidate from 1989 announcing his support of public funding for abortions for poor women, should provide all the ammunition in the world for a candidate like Sam Brownback. Every GOP ad maker and opposition researcher not involved with Giuliani’s campaign is going to go through the transcript with a fine tooth comb and use it for talking points, fundraising appeals, or negative ads.

I have no doubt he would make a formidable candidate in a general election, regardless of whoever the Democratic nominee is. But his problem is that his position on abortion rights and other social issues is often a polar opposite of social conservatives, the people in the Republican base who go out and volunteer or vote during primaries. There will always be arguments of ideology vs. pragmatism, but given the GOP’s rigid insistence on ideological purity regardless of potential electoral consequences [i.e. Club for Growth-funded challenges to Republican senators in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in 2004 and 2006] Giuliani might be shot down by the Republican base even though he might be one of their best candidates for a national race.


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