Dear Mr. Lowry,
You wrote, “Maybe I’ve been wrong to say that Giuliani doesn’t care about abortion, and he does really feel deeply about a woman’s right to abortion—and doesn’t want to be defensive about it any more.”
On the other hand, I disagree with you on another point: I wouldn’t characterize Rudy Giuliani’s adjustment in his campaign approach as one of “running a campaign straight into the teeth of social conservatives.”
More accurately, I’d say it’s a case of Rudy deciding that he has been casting his pearls before swine, and lo and behold! just as Christ warned, they went and trampled his pearls in the mud!Rudy tired to make nice with the radical anti-abortionists in the Party … to intentionally soft-pedal his longstanding pro choice policy position, without actually giving it up (as you recently suggested that he should just cynically relent and do) … but no, they wouldn’t have any of that. The religious right proceeded to nitpick him to death over his softpedaling, calling it inconsistent, obtuse, confusing … etc. etc. etc. … basically, the same stuff that you and your fellow NRO editors have been saying for the last month or so.
I’d strongly suggest that you read Charles Krauthammer’s new post on NRO this morning, if you haven’t already.
The new Giuliani campaign tack?
No more softpedaling, and he’s simply going to bypass the small minority of single issue Republicans (and also very likely their turf in NH, IA, and SC) who are fixated on abortion, an issue that the radical anti’s would prefer was the centerpiece of the Republican Party in the 2008 election … surely a loser’s strategy in a country where 2/3 of all Americans, and especially 2/3 of all independents – upon whom all national elections hinge – favor abortion rights with reasonable restrictions. And all this is set in a time of obviously far greater voter concerns over Iraq, Islamic Jihad, nukes in Iran, an awakening communist China, the economy and jobs, the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire after 2010, and general Democratic mischief-making, etc. etc. Abortion simply doesn’t register in even the top four issues that most Republicans and independents care about, according to most recent polls on the subject.
On the other hand, Giuliani is not transforming himself or his campaign into an anti-anti-abortionist stance either. He’s still in favor of reasonable abortion restrictions, such as a ban on partial birth procedures, parental notification, etc.. He’s still strongly in favor of non-activist, strict constructionism/original intent in appointing Federal justices and judges. He’s still for the Hyde Amendment, and therefore against Federal funding for abortions.
In short, nothing in his actual stance on policies has changed. It’s just his campaign strategy that’s being adjusted.
Will the new front-loaded primary schedule, now suddenly dominated by the large delegate counts in large states heretofore virtually ignored by the primary candidates in prior elections, have an effect on Giuliani’s strategy?
The big States are definitely not friendly ground for either Romney or for Thompson. Just CA, FL, OH, NY, PA, and TX alone account alone account for well over half the delegates needed to nominate. With 22 States now holding elections on or before Stupendous Tuesday (February 5), and at least another 11 States (including TX, IL, and PA) in the process of joining them, it will be over before any of the supposed advantages of winning NH, IA, or SC can even begin to have an effect on fundraising or polling….
ME: For the record, I didn’t counsel Rudy to change his pro-choice position, just to say he thinks Roe is bad constitutional reasoning, as the pro-choice Krauthammer says today: “I hope for the day when Roe is overturned, not because I want to see abortion criminalized — I once voted in a Maryland referendum to keep abortion legal if Roe is ever repealed — but to sweep away this ridiculous muddle. Perhaps Giuliani should have said something like that rather than leaving the precedent question up to judges….”