Evangelicals on Choice of Rudy
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is feeling more heat from evangelicals concerned about his position on abortion who are determined not to let the Republican Party nominate him for president.
The latest broadside comes from a supporter of one of Giuliani's top rivals, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. In a letter that conveniently found its way to the press, public relations executive Mark DeMoss urges his fellow evangelicals to rally around Romney.
"I would respectfully urge fellow conservatives and evangelicals to...galvanize support around Mitt Romney, so Rudy Giuliani isn't the unintended beneficiary of our divided support among several other candidates," DeMoss says in the open letter addressed to "Conservative & Evangelical Leaders."
DeMoss is a conservative PR executive who describes the late Rev. Jerry Falwell as his mentor. In the letter, he says he is not being paid by Romney and says he is "involved because I believe the stakes are high, perhaps higher than ever before in my life."
His letter, first reported by the New York Times, is mostly a four-page endorsement of Romney's strengths. But its most pointed passages are aimed at Giuliani, whose pro-choice position is sparking increasing angst among religious conservatives.
In one passage, DeMoss writes that "In the long run, this only helps Rudy Giuliani, who clearly does not share our values on so many issues."
His comments come on the heels of another group of Christian leaders, who announced two weeks ago that they would consider running a third-party, pro-life candidate if Giuliani becomes the nominee of the Republican party.
DeMoss says that is not a good idea.
"While I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. James Dobson that not having a pro-life nominee of either major party presents an unacceptable predicament," he writes, "I would rather work hard to ensure we do nominate a pro-life candidate than to launch an 11th-hour third party campaign."
For Giuliani, the letter is a reminder of the difficulty in challenging Republican orthodoxy on the issue of abortion. In the modern era, the GOP has never nominated a fully pro-choice candidate.
Aides to the New Yorker have said for months that the issue is overblown, and that voters will focus on Giuliani's leadership after the September 11 attacks and his successes in making his city safer and more prosperous.
But critics -- like DeMoss -- are going to try to bring the subject back to abortion again and again.
"Someone will either defend unborn life--or defend those who place their rights and desires above those who can't defend themselves," he wrote. "Would we prefer that Clinton, Giuliani or Romney be in that position?"
On the trail at an ice cream shop in Greenville, South Carolina, Giuliani was asked about his support among social conservatives. His share of the vote among that group, he said, is "larger than any other candidates...the big news is how strong I am in South Carolina."
-- Michael D. Shear
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