Jay Reding.com

Can Giuliani Get Past Step One?

USA Today takes a look at Giuliani’s chances at getting the Republican nomination in 2008. What’s interesting is that their poll show that most Republicans didn’t know about Giuliani’s position on social issues — which seems surprising given that the media has been hammering him on it for some time.

That actually works to Giuliani’s advantage, as it gives him an opportunity to show why he’d be a candidate that social conservatives can support. Giuliani has already stated that he would nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, which is a good start. However, he’s going to have to clarify his position on gay marriage, abortion, and gun control to win. He has an opportunity to reinvent himself should he be willing to take it, and if he’s serious about running, he’s going to have to confront those issues.

His related problem is that once he does that, he runs the risk of alienating moderates inclined to support him. He can’t swing too far to the right, as that puts him in the same space as everyone else jockeying for that position.

What Giuliani needs to do is run as a kind of “Third Way” candidate — someone who will be absolutely resolute on national defense, keep taxes low, and will support family values, but by encouraging character rather than legislative policy. Giuliani can speak on the breakdown of the American family in general terms and still appeal to social conservatives.

If Giuliani can moderate his position and speak in the language that social conservatives understand, I don’t necessarily think that there will be a huge backlash against him from social conservatives. Social conservatives aren’t going to hand the White House to a John Edwards or a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama just because they have some issues with Giuliani. Even though some social conservatives might stay home, Giuliani can pick up the libertarian-leaning Republicans, fiscal conservatives, and moderates who abandoned the GOP in the 2006 cycle. So long as there’s more of them then there are Republicans who would never consider Giuliani, he is still very much in the game.

Assuming Giuliani doesn’t flame out sometime in the next year or so (which, admittedly, is always a possibility) he has a strong chance at picking up the nomination. He’s going to have to have a road-to-Damascus moment on the Second Amendment, but he’s got the time to do so. Giuliani’s greatest asset is that he exudes a sense of leadership — when he’s in the room, there’s no doubt that he’s in charge. What he will have to do is use that personal gravitas to reach out to the Republican base. If he can pull that off, and I see a strong chance he can, he can assuage the doubts of conservatives of all stripes and position himself as the next great American leader.

9 responses to “Can Giuliani Get Past Step One?”

  1. Haggs says:

    The Republicans would be stupid to not nominate Giuliani. He’s a sure-fire win. Yes, he’s not in line with the social conservatives, but with the way they treat gay people and others they dislike, I really don’t feel sorry for them.

    And you’re right that the moderates will abandon him if he moves to the right on social issues. I know I will.

  2. Mark says:

    I said it once and I’ll say it again…PLEASE! NOMINATE! THIS! MAN!

    Every New York Democrat I’ve talked to is in a permanent state of salivation at the prospect of a Rudy Giuliani nomination as it would all but ensure the election of ANY Democratic challenger except for Dennis Kucinich. Giuliani has a list of shady business dealings as long as your arm, a sleazy soap operaish personal history in a political party that demands nothing less than puritanism, and positions on issues that conflict with an overwhelming majority of his party’s political base. The Republican Party’s 2008 Convention would become the biggest melee since Ross Perot’s Reform Party disbanded into fisticuffs back in 2000 if they nominated Giuliani, showcasing to all of America on national TV the magnitude of the party’s fissure….and the magnitude of evangelical scaries in the party’s ranks, who can be counted upon to chainlink themselves to fence of the party’s convention hall to protest their party’s nomination of a “baby killer”.

    All America knows about Giuliani was that he was the mayor of New York City during the 9-11 attacks. That’s the only thing about Giuliani that would merit approval from the voting public, be it far-right theocrats or moderate soccer moms. Giuliani would manage to divide the right at the same time as he would alienate the center once those voters learned of his positions on the war and on economics, and for that matter, listened to his grating New York accent in a candidate forum. At the end of the day, when you figure that a third-party challenge from the right would take away a bare minimum of 5% of the vote, Giuliani could end up being the worst-performing GOP nominee since Barry Goldwater.

    No, wait a minute, scratch all that. Giuliani staking out positions on social issues to the left of Hillary Clinton “works to his advantage” as Jay says. For a guy who repeatedly reminded us nasty secular Dems two years ago that we didn’t understand evangelical voters, it is you Jay, who now publicly advocates for the bridge they built for you to be burned. Any Republican who is seriously advocating the nomination of Rudy Giuliani is a Republican who the Democratic Party has right they want them.

  3. Jay Reding says:

    No, wait a minute, scratch all that. Giuliani staking out positions on social issues to the left of Hillary Clinton “works to his advantage” as Jay says.

    Not even close.

    The fact that most Republicans don’t know his views works to his advantage — because then he can change/reexplain them. Giuliani has already said that he sees Roberts and Alito as the models for Supreme Court justices he’d put on the bench. That’s hardly a position that would put him to Hillary Clinton’s left.

    It’s understandable that the Democrats are scared out of their wits at the prospects of a Giuliani run, given that he wipes the floor with every Democratic challenger in just about every poll. The Democrats know very well that 1) the idea that there would be a third-party run by a right-wing candidate is laughable 2) Giuliani pulls enough with independents to destroy any chance of a Democrat winning.

    I’ve heard Giuliani speak in person several times now. He’s one of the best American political orators out there. In both partisan and non-partisan events he had a command of the audience that only a few politicians can muster.

    If Giuliani runs, he’s got a strong chance of taking the nomination. If he takes the nomination, he’s got an excellent shot at taking the Oval Office. If the Democrats nominate Hillary (which still remains quite likely), it’ll be a blowout the likes of which haven’t been seen in this country since Reagan in 1984…

  4. Mark says:

    “The fact that most Republicans don’t know his views works to his advantage — because then he can change/reexplain them.”

    That is seriously tortured logic. Even the most masterful spin in the world isn’t gonna rescue Giuliani from his own past. Do you really believe Giuliani can try to smooth-talk his way out of a lifetime of political support for gay rights, gun control and legalized abortion and be allowed to get the last word on the subject. He’s a non-starter with the Republican base. Period!

    “Giuliani has already said that he sees Roberts and Alito as the models for Supreme Court justices he’d put on the bench.”

    A position that, in the minds of the moderate pro-choice voters that you are convinced Giuliani would win over, makes him the exact same as every other Republican who wants government to control women’s bodies. There is no way Giuliani avoids looking like the most transparently opportunistic flip-flopper of all time if he tries to court pro-choice moderate voters in the northeastern suburbs while simultaneously assuring conservatives that he’s gonna appoint SCOTUS nominees on record in their support of repealing Roe vs. Wade.

    “It’s understandable that the Democrats are scared out of their wits at the prospects of a Giuliani run, given that he wipes the floor with every Democratic challenger in just about every poll.”

    Yes, and the opinion polls 11 1/2 months before the first 2008 primary are worth so much. The fact that only 25% of Republican voters know where Giuliani stands on social issues shows how little the public is engaged in 2008 politics at this point. Voters recognize Giuliani from 9-11 and associate him with strong leadership in the days after the terrorist attacks, but that’s the beginning and the end of his resume, at least of anything in his resume that could be remotely construed as favorable. And that does not a successful Presidential candidate make.

    “the idea that there would be a third-party run by a right-wing candidate is laughable”

    The fact that you think Mississippi evangelicals will vote for a guy who favors the legalization of slicing open the skulls of newborns and vacuuming out their brains is what is laughable. Rudy Giuliani will play as well in the Republican South of today as Hubert Humphrey did in the Democratic South of 40 years ago. As was the case with Democrat Humphrey in ’68, a “real” Republican will steal hundreds of thousands of Southern votes away from the “official” Republican. I said so first…then Charlie Cook…then Stu Rothenberg. Pretty soon the only people left scoffing at the prospect of evangelical conservatives not robotically casting a vote for the Republican nominee (however contradictory his worldview is to theirs) are the country club Republicans like yourself, who are clearly just as touch with your own party’s foot soldiers as effete Manhattan liberals are with the Democrat’s foot soldiers.

    “He’s one of the best American political orators out there.”

    You like his message of unwavering militarism. Most people don’t at this point. I’ve never heard Giuliani in oratory mode, but I’ve seen him in interview mode and find him as smarmy and condescending as they come. Perhaps I’m biased, but so are you. If the message runs against public opinion by a 2-1 margin, the quality of the oratory doesn’t much matter.

    “If the Democrats nominate Hillary (which still remains quite likely), it’ll be a blowout the likes of which haven’t been seen in this country since Reagan in 1984…”

    Against McCain, Romney, or Huckabee, you’re right. Hillary would lose in a landslide. Against an abrasive lightweight with a shady past and a political platform that gives his party’s base the finger like Giuliani, even Hillary could win.

    Evangelical voters are the only reason the modern-day Republican Party even attained majority-party status. Nominating Rudy Giuliani for President would be the equivalent to pulling down your pants and taking a giant, smelly dump right on the faces of the evangelicals who got you where you are today. The arrogance is mind-blowing, even exceeding that of the 1993 “NAFTA Democrats”….and look how they turned out.

  5. zzx375 says:

    …but with the way they treat gay people and others they dislike

    If you are refering to the fact that many Republicans do not support changing 200 years of law and legal precedent that have caused marriage to be defined as being between a male and female then that is true. But could that be that those who support the change haven’t moved past “I wasnt to do this”? and that they haven’t provided new information as the basis for the change? It seems to me that if this issue is such a no-brainer, the law would have already been changed, everywhere.

  6. Erica says:

    Frankly, I don’t really mind Guliani the way he is right now. Sure he’s kind of a slimeball, but what politician isn’t? I just think that he looks really good in drag, and it would be great if we had a president who was that open-minded. Just think how fabulous the White House would be if we had Rudy as president!

  7. Eric Dondero says:

    In Rudy we have the perfect libertrian Republican: Fiscally Conservative, Socially Tolerant and Pro-Defense. He epitomizes what the libertarian wing of the GOP is all about. Go Rudy!

    Eric Dondero, CEO
    http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
    Former Chief Aide, US Congressman Ron Paul

    PS I worked for the other Presidential contender Ron Paul for 12 years, but I’m supporting Rudy!

  8. Greg D says:

    However, he’s going to have to clarify his position on gay marriage, abortion, and gun control to win. He has an opportunity to reinvent himself should he be willing to take it, and if he’s serious about running, he’s going to have to confront those issues.

    Taking that “opportunity”, IMHO, would be a really bad idea. He’s popular for being a “straight shooter”. “Changing” his views to get the nomination would destroy that.

    Besides, how many Republican voters are really going to have a problem with him? (Assuming, of course, that he holds the line on Judges.) I don’t care about his position on abortion, so long as he is anti-Roe. I don’t care what he thinks about “gun control”, so long as he thinks it’s a State issue, not a Federal one. I don’t care what he thinks about gay “civil unions”, unless he’s planning on imposing them on us.

  9. Erica says:

    Shorter Greg D.: I don’t care what Rudy really thinks, so long as he shows sufficient hatred of bitches and fags in public.