Today, Jonathan Martin wrote this in a post entitled “As abortion is to Mitt, immigration is to Rudy:”
The 1996 video, which was not sent by Mitt Romney’s campaign, comes as Giuliani and Romney continue to battle it out over who can take a tougher line on immigration. Each is seeking to portray themselves as border security hawks to appeal to a party base consumed by the issue. But, like much else in a campaign where the top contenders aren’t pure conservatives, they’re both dogged by previous statements or actions.
Romney, for example, has criticized Giuliani for allowing New York to be a “sanctuary city’ protecting illegal immigrants during his term as mayor. But as governor, Romney, apparently did little specifically about the three cities in his own state that were harboring illegals.
Giuliani’s bar could be even higher on the issue, though. In some ways, his shift on immigration is akin to Romney’s on abortion. In both cases, there are ample quotes and videos (see above) that contradict their current stance. The obvious political need to get Right on two key issues to the party base aside, both do have cover for their conversions. For Romney, it was his subjective experience with stem cell research that sparked concern about the value being placed on human life. For Rudy, it was the objective horror of 9/11 that underscored the need to account for those coming over our borders. But while Romney has conceded his “Road to Damascus” moment, Rudy hasn’t had to admit that he was previously wrong. At least not yet.
Unfortunately, the end of Martin’s post shows why his analogy doesn’t hold up. While both Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani are getting some flak for their current stances on, respectively, abortion and immigration, their situations are quite different: Governor Romney has admitted that he was wrong on abortion, but Mayor Giuliani’s camp continues to insist that he hasn’t really changed his mind on immigration. He says changing technology is the culprit! As a spokesman subsequently wrote to Martin:
As the Mayor made clear in his comments over a decade ago the technology simply did not exist to completely secure the border in 1996. Reasonable people understand we have made great technological strides in the past 11 years and our national security now depends on stopping the flow of illegal immigrants to our country. The fact of the matter is we can and must end illegal immigration, and Mayor Giuliani is the leader our country needs to get it done.
And this isn’t just about Mayor Giuliani. As we’ve written before, another candidate (or, if you insist, possible candidate) has switched his stance on a key issue and has yet to explain it. What does this mean? Easy. The key difference among the GOP frontrunners is not whether any of them has changed his mind on a critical issue. All of them have. The key difference is that one has compellingly explained why he changed his mind and admitted he was wrong, whereas the others have done neither.
The choice we face isn’t a “flip-flopper” versus one or more “Conservative Messiahs.” It’s between guys who have changed their minds in one of two ways. Which do you choose, conservative evangelical voter?