Faced with mounds of press coverage stemming from speculation that various right-wing leaders would abandon the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani win the presidential nomination, things are looking a little grim for his chances:
“You have a whole group of evangelical Christians who will not support him,” said Paul Weyrich, a member of the Arlington Group, in reference to Giuliani. “Absolutely will not.
“I will not back Giuliani,” he added.
Weyrich, a founder of the modern social conservative movement and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, predicted that in the general election many values-driven Republican voters would stay home if Giuliani is the nominee.
Another conservative leader, Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, also voiced opposition to Giuliani.
“Giuliani can’t win,” he said. “There are millions of people including me who will not vote for him.”
The Giuliani campaign apparently doesn’t buy these claims and has struck back with a memo of its own based on a recent Gallup poll that shows that he “does no worse than tie for first in each of a number of key Republican demographic groups.”
As the Giuliani memo puts it:
Primary elections usually set up contrasts. An interesting component of the race is that no candidate has clearly positioned themselves as the social conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Fred Thompson entered the race expecting to take the position as the primary social conservative alternative to Romney, but Mike Huckabee has also impressed many primary voters and there is no clear social conservative favorite.
Most notably, Mayor Giuliani continues to hold strong with socially conservative voters. Socially conservative voters are becoming more comfortable with Mayor Giuliani as they hear him speak clearly about his agenda. Two of the Mayor’s 12 Commitments that are most important are “to increase the number of adoptions, reduce the number of abortions and protect the quality of life for our children.” And no candidate has better credentials on judges and the Mayor has committed to “reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.”
A recent Gallup Poll report released last week points out that Mayor Giuliani leads among all Republican subgroups — including with Conservative Republicans, those who attend church weekly, Protestant/Christians and Catholics.
The memo goes on to dismiss the campaigns of both Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson and concludes that “Mayor Giuliani is clearly the strongest candidate to run against Senator Clinton in the general election and is likely the only Republican candidate that can beat her in 2008.”
Giuliani’s strategy seems two-pronged here: disputing the Right’s claims that that socially conservative voters will not support his campaign and bolstering that by echoing the message Gary Bauer has been peddling to his right-wing allies that bolting from the GOP only harms their chances of seeing their political agenda advanced and that there will be, in Bauer’s words, no “bigger disaster for social conservatives, defense conservatives and economic conservatives, than Hillary Clinton in the White House.”