Nathan, in a recent article in the Lower Hudson Journal-News, Mayor Giuliani’s prospects received a similar assessment:
Rudolph Giuliani’s stature as the hero of 9/11 didn’t mean much to Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler in 2005 when Loyola College, a Catholic school, decided to give Giuliani an honorary degree.
To the archbishop of Baltimore, the former Time magazine “Person of the Year” was just another pro-abortion politician.
“May I state that there will be no representative of the Archdiocese participating in any event honoring former Mayor Giuliani,” Keeler wrote to Loyola, a Baltimore school, in a letter that was posted on the archdiocese Web site. “I am confident that, by now, you understand many of the consequences that spring from an invitation having been extended to former Mayor Giuliani to receive an honorary degree at Loyola.”
Loyola went ahead and gave Giuliani his degree. But a senior cardinal’s easy dismissal of Giuliani, hardly noticed at the time, shows what an uphill and fundamentally unorthodox run Giuliani is preparing to make at the Republican presidential nomination.
Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics make up 40 percent to 50 percent of Republican primary voters. It’s no secret that abortion and homosexuality are two litmus-test issues for conservative evangelicals and Catholics.
And in their opinion, Giuliani fails both tests. He is pro-choice and in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples. He also has been married three times and was involved with his future third wife while still married to his second.
So how does the combative former prosecutor lead national and most statewide polls by wide margins over Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others? Catholic and evangelical leaders say that few Republican voters know how out of step Giuliani is on their core social issues – that he opposed a ban on the procedure known as late-term abortion and that, as New York City mayor, he marched in gay pride parades and dressed in drag.
They say Giuliani’s numbers will fall once evangelical leaders, Catholic bishops and Giuliani’s opponents start to drive home what Giuliani was doing and saying before 9/11.
“He can’t win – not unless he changes his positions and convinces people that he’s sincere,” said Richard Land, president of the public-policy arm of the 16.5 million-member Southern Baptist Convention and an important voice among politically minded evangelicals. “He’s leading in the polls because he has great name ID. But most evangelicals I know won’t vote for him even if he runs against Hillary Clinton. They just won’t vote. The pro-life issue is a deal killer for us. The gay issue compounds the problem.”
Land contends that Giuliani could not win even the general election without the strong support of evangelicals. In the 2006 elections, he said, 24 percent of voters were white evangelicals. Seventy percent of them voted Republican. Sixty-one percent of all other voters went for Democrats.
“You can’t win with only white evangelicals,” he said. “But without them, a Republican faces a loss of apocalyptic proportions.”
Giuliani has long faced the question of whether his positions on abortion and gay rights could derail his political career. When he proposed in 1998 extending city benefits to same-sex couples, he said, “I really haven’t thought about what the impact is on Republican politics or national politics.” The following year, he refused a public request from New York’s Conservative Party to endorse a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Those decisions will soon be known by primary voters, said Joe Carter, director of Web communications for the Family Research Council in Washington and author of the popular conservative blog Evangelical Outpost.
“Rudy can’t do it. Flat out. Won’t happen,” he said. “Republicans forget that we vote for them for a reason: their stand on the issues. If you’re pro-choice and pro-gay rights, you might as well run as a Democrat. Giuliani is the Barack Obama of the Republican Party, riding by on charisma. When evangelicals and Catholics scratch the surface, forget it.”
Romney, a Mormon who was pro-choice before changing his position, has been working hard to woo evangelicals, who are traditionally very suspicious of Mormon beliefs. But Charles Mitchell, who edits the Web site Evangelicals for Mitt, said that evangelicals who study the candidates and their positions will be able to look past Romney’s faith before they look past Giuliani’s stance on abortion.
“Evangelicals respect Giuliani for what he did after 9/11, but respecting him is not the same thing as supporting him,” said Mitchell, of Alexandria, Va. “People have a vague idea that he’s a social liberal, but there’s a difference between having a vague idea and knowing that he supports partial-birth abortion. That’s pretty far gone for us.
“Romney vetoed an emergency contraception bill and is right on stem cells, gay marriage. He has actions to back up the words.”
George Weigel, an influential Catholic theologian who has called on the nation’s bishops to be tougher on Catholic politicians who support abortion, said Giuliani’s “tough on decadence” approach to governing New York City doesn’t jibe with his insistence on a woman’s “right to choose.”
“If the choice in question is the death of an innocent human being, that’s not a choice, that’s a grave violation of human rights,” Weigel said. “I very much hope the former mayor takes the opportunity to think some of these questions through again over the year ahead.”
If not, he’ll hear from Weigel, Land and others. And he’ll hear from at least some Catholic bishops, who take very different pastoral approaches on dealing with pro-choice politicians.
Also–it should be noted that just two days before this reporter reached out to EFM, Mayor Giuliani reversed himself on partial-birth abortion on Hannity & Colmes. I erred in noting his previous position and regret it.