Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, will announce his support for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid this morning in Washington, D.C., according to sources familiar with the decision.
Robertson’s support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions on abortion and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee.
It also slows any momentum for Mitt Romney within the social conservative movement. Romney had recently secured the backing of conservative stalwarts Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III — endorsements that seemed to strengthen his bid to become the electable conservative alternative to Giuliani. Romney had made no secret of his desire for Robertson’s endorsement and has to be disappointed this morning.
The other major effect of Robertson’s support for Giuliani is that it will quiet talk in social conservative circles that nominating Giuliani would lead “values voters” to abandon the Republican Party. The stamp of approval from Robertson should assuage the doubts of many (although certainly not all) of the rank-and-file social conservatives.
Of course, back in 1992, Robertson addressed the Republican National Convention where he attacked Bill Clinton for his support for reproductive choice, saying the Right could not allow America to be run by a man who “wants to give your 13-year-old daughter the choice without your consent to destroy the life of her unborn baby” and was running on a platform that “never once mentions the name of God:”
Since I have come to Houston, I have been asked repeatedly to define traditional values. I say very simply, to me and to most Republicans, traditional values start with faith in Almighty God … When Bill Clinton talks about family values, I don’t believe he’s talking about either families or values. …The campaign before us is not just a campaign for an office, but for the destiny of America. We will not rest until there is a new birth of freedom in America … until we restore the greatness of America through moral strength.
Apparently, times have changed.
Meanwhile, Sam Brownback will reportedly endorse John McCain:
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), meanwhile, plans to announce his surprise endorsement of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president on Wednesday, a campaign official told Politico.
The endorsement is to be announced in Dubuque, Iowa.
The alliance gives McCain — once a front-runner, now struggling — a crucial bridge to social conservatives, an important constituency that has remained suspicious of him despite his opposition to abortion.
Last month, Family Reseach Council President Tony Perkins was predicting that their Values Voter Summit would help the Right coalesce and narrow the field, if only by achieving agreement not to support Giuliani. That turned out not to be the case, and if these two announcements are any indication, the Right’s hopes of unifying behind a single candidate are fading fast.