Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was on “Hardball” last night discussing that meeting in Utah in which social conservatives discussed leaving the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani wins the nomination. Perkins made clear that he and some others consider Giuliani’s position on abortion a deal-killer, no matter what Giuliani’s other strengths might be. From the interview, which included Rep. Pete King representing Giuliani:
PERKINS: The intent here is not to create a third party. What — what we’re saying is — like myself, you know, I came to the political process, I ran for office, held office, because of the issue of life. And — and the vast majority of social conservatives came to the Republican Party because of the life issue and the other social issues. If the party leaves those issues, I think it’s unreasonable for them to demand that they stay in the party. And I don’t think they will.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Perkins, do you think the Democrats are — do you want to play the role Ralph Nader played with the Democrats? I mean, the Democrats think this guy ought to be sat on a desert island somewhere out in the Pacific, because helped — he played a role — in fact, his votes killed Al Gore’s chances. Do you want to be there? Do you want to be — part of the Al Gore party — or the Ralph Nader party of 2008, that destroys the Republican coalition?
PERKINS: No. But I think, Chris, there comes a point where you draw a line on principle. And I think this — this is the principal issue, the issue of life. We are not going to sit down at a table and negotiate away the protection of human life and shake hands and get up and go forward. That’s not going to happen on my watch.
KING: You know, whether it is Governor Romney, or Senator Thompson, or Senator McCain, none of them has a perfect pro-life record. The fact is, Mayor Giuliani has said, on the issues as it faces now on life, on Supreme Court judges, on the Hyde amendment, on partial-birth abortion, that he is with the pro-life side. And, to me, you know, this is not a perfect world. We live in a very imperfect world. But the fact is, you have to make very prudent decisions going forward. And I think it would hurt the pro-life movement, I think it would advance the cause of pro-choice — or pro-abortion, if Mr. Perkins wants to say — if we run a third party, or if we block Giuliani, and we allow someone like Senator Clinton to become the president. That’s the moral decision you have to face. Do you want Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton? And who would advance the pro-life cause more? I say, clearly, Rudy Giuliani.
PERKINS: Well, again, I respectfully have to disagree. And you did bring up a good point. I think there are other candidates in the race that are pro-life, that have stated that they oppose Roe v. Wade and that they are — they are have pro-life credentials. And, so, there are other options on the table.
KING: They also have pro-choice credentials. Governor Romney has only become pro-life in the last year or so.
PERKINS: He has a very clearly stated position on it presently. Senator Thompson has a pro-life record in the legislature. McCain is questionable on the issue. But there are other options that are out there. That’s why I’m saying that this is not a declaration of intent to create a third party. We’re simply saying that there is a line which we won’t cross. That is, we will not be supportive of a candidate who supports abortion.