A telling piece on Rudy Giuliani’s trip to South Carolina:
Rudolph Giuliani today will test what would likely be chilly waters for any presidential bid he may launch: the South.
But as the former New York City mayor, a Republican who stands to the left of his party on a number of social issues, prepares for a congressional fund-raiser keynote address in South Carolina, there are encouraging signs he may play better than expected in the state that will host the first Southern primary in 2008.
“The idea that Rudy can’t be successful in the South because of ‘God, guns and gays,’ as they like to say, is extremely overblown at this point, because Rudy transcends a lot of social issues,” said Ryan Sager, a political reporter and the author of the upcoming book, “The Elephant In the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party.”
It’s no secret why: Giuliani’s steely resolve and take-charge response after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York inspired a traumatized nation.
“He was there on 9/11. He knows better than anyone the threat we’re up against. He’ll carry on the fight until we win this thing,” said one of the anonymous voters who participated in a recent focus group conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz on all the potential candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination.
Said another: “He speaks with conviction.”
But–you knew there was a “but”:
But when Luntz asked group members whether they would support Giuliani if they knew he was pro-choice on abortion, accepting of gay domestic partnerships and supported gun restrictions as mayor of New York, the response from social conservatives was a resounding “no.”
Exactly. Most people are not focused on 2008 right now and do not know Rudy’s true positions. When evangelicals find out those positions, their enthusiasm for him will dissipate rapidly. Evangelicals want candidates who share their values, not necessarily their doctrine. The media will likely never understand this–hence the hysteria about Gov. Romney’s Mormonism but the unending enthusiasm for the likes of Giuliani and McCain.