The Giuliani Factor

by Sal on February 9, 2007

in Politics

One interesting dynamic in this upcoming Presidential election is that of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Conservative talk-show host Mark Belling was guest-hosting on The Rush Limbaugh Show this afternoon, and he spent much time discussing the quandary that Rudy’s candidacy presents Conservatives.  On the one hand, Rudy has the Presidential feel.  He has the gift of communication that propelled a relative-conservative to two unprecedented terms as Mayor in one of the more liberal cities in the nation.  He has the courage of his convictions, and cannot really be accused of flip-flopping on any position (a current knock against former Gov. Mitt Romney).  He is conservative on many issues, from the War on Terror, to fiscal issues, to crime issues, and so on.  He would drive the liberals crazy, because he has that basic gift of being able to speak directly to the people about his ideas, and explain why certain policies work while others don’t.  He is also an incredible executive and administrator, consistently achieving results (as in New York City’s War on Crime and its economic renaissance) and is able to effectively handle any crisis thrown at him (as in his strong leadership shown on 9/11).  All other things being equal, Giuliani would run away with the nomination, and probably easily capture the White House. 

There is one problem, however, and it’s a big one.  Giuliani’s position on abortion is abhorrent to most conservatives.  Conservatives are generally (although not exclusively) pro-life, and committedly so.  It is an important, if not critical issue in the minds of a significant portion of the Republican base (myself included).  True, Rudy is liberal on other social issues, but most of them Conservatives would be willing to stomach; abortion is a different matter because of the view held by many that it is truly the taking of an innocent human life. 

To help alleviate those fears, Giuliani has lately been talking about side issues important to Conservative voters, and to committed pro-lifers.  It would be very hard and not believable for Rudy to switch his position at this point, so he appears to be taking a different tack.  Earlier this week, Giuliani spoke on Hannity and Colmes on the types of judges that he would appoint to the Federal Judiciary: 

I think the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the last two judges that were appointed.  If I had been president over the last four years, I can’t think of any, you know, that I’d do anything different with that.  I would appoint judges that interpreted the Constitution rather than invented it, understood the difference between being a judge and being a legislator.  I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I’d describe it.

There are also rumblings that Rudy might take the position that he supports abortion but opposes Roe V. Wade as unconstitutional, and thinks it’s a question that the states should decide.  Would either of these views be enough to convince social conservatives that he is the right man for the job?  If he were nominated, would a third party candidate rise that would virtually guarantee the election of a Democrat president? 

As for myself, I do know that if Rudy were nominated, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.  No matter what his stand on abortion, he is far superior than She-who-must-not-be-named, Obama, Edwards, or anyone else that the Democrats can throw out there.  Would I vote for him in a primary?  My gut tells me no, because of his stance on life.  It is unfortunate, however, as he is the only candidate currently in the field who inspires excitement and could convincingly advance the cause of limited government, as well as effectively rally the American people around prosecuting the War on Terror. 

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan February 9, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I’d absolutely vote for Guiliani if he faced off against She Who Must Not Be Named or the other Death Eaters. But that does not mean he should get a free pass.

In 1860, Lincoln was anti-slavery, but felt powerless to do anything about it before the Civil War. He was not the abolitionists ultimate candidate, but he had many other things going for him.

My #1 issue is security, but if I can be convinced that Rudy can protect us and US interests, as well as appoint good judges in the manner in which he proposes, as a pro-lifer I would not fear his candidacy. Roe v. Wade should be overturned. If Rudy is pro-choice, but nominates the justice who overturn it (making it a state issue), he was worth the gamble. For now, I like Newt and I like what Romney is saying, but who knows where we’ll be in a few months.


Mike February 9, 2007 at 3:08 pm

I agree with this. Giuliani would have my vote in the general if won the nomination. Even compared to other Republicans, I actually have more confidence in the pro-choice Giuiliani than I do in the pro-life McCain when it comes to nominating judges.

However, I am still deeply troubled by some of Rudy’s answers in that Hannity interview. The first problem arose when Hannity specicifically asked Rudy about his opinion of Roe, but Rudy refused to do it, instead ducking the question. That was a red flag.

The second problem arose when Rudy explained that he saw gun control as appropriate for NYC while respecting the rights of other communities to implement more permissive policies. The Second Amendment states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. There is no mention of differing regional applicability.

It seems that Giuliani has a misunderstanding of constitutional issues. That troubles me when the person who can’t comprehend the Constitution would be responsible for nominating the people who are charged with interpreting it.

That said, I’d definitely take Giuiani over McCain, the candidate who just doesn’t give damn about the Constitution. McCain-Feingold is exactly what the First Amendment was drafed to prevent.

I’m still trying to figure out what I think about Romney. Gingrich would be impressive but for the character issue.


Mike February 9, 2007 at 3:10 pm

He looks Presidential in that pic BTW.


Sal February 9, 2007 at 3:27 pm

One additional note, someone pointed out that his answer to the Roe question was virtually identical to Bush’s answer in 2000. Bush stated that he was opposed to it but that it was up to the courts to decide.


Mike February 9, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Rudy didn’t say he opposed the decision. He said he personally opposed abortion but that Roe was for the courts to decide. Bush clearly stated in 2000 that Roe was a stretch.


Chris February 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm

I am both excited and nervous (for the Conservatives) about a Rudy run for president. Growing up 30 miles from NYC, his leadership skills are quite memorable in my mind. In the late 80s/early 90s, NYC, flat out, was an unsafe dump. With his leadership, it has made a significant resurgence and has grown to be one of the safest and best cities on the east coast (if Bloomberg doesn’t mess it up…but I digress)…NYC seems like a new town since his mayorality. Rudy is also right on many issues; especially national security and crime…his plainspeak and ability to be a “No Spin Zone” guy also helps him. I also think that his leadership on 9/11 will quiet anyone who questions his character issues, but those on the left will try to brand him a racist, therefore he should be prepared.

I, like many Conservatives, are concerned about his stance on social issues was not convinced either after the Hannity interview. He does needs to fully answer questions and not try to pull off the “Clinton obfiscation.” Doing that will put many Conservatives living outside of the Northeast at ease.

If he is the nominee, I will definitely vote for him and I also believe that he has the best chance to beat her thighness. (the quicker McCain is out of there, the better I will feel) This was a race that was supposed to happen for the Senate in 2000 and it looks like we may see it 8 years later.


Noonan February 9, 2007 at 9:48 pm

As a social conservative, my two cents on Rudy’s judges statement is that it is encouraging but not good enough. Bush’s clear alignment with Christian leaders in the 2000 campaign and his unmitigated opposition to abortion gave me confidence he would appoint Pro-Life judges. I plugged him to those I know who care about the issue on that count.

Giuliani’s statement, however, sounds more like a carefully crafted statement and not a personal conviction. I’d sooner take Romney, who although also with a Pro-Choice history, has publicly declared himself to be converted to the Pro-Life position. Neither seem particularly appealling. If I can be forgiven for citing a scene in Sorkin’s “West Wing” tv series, the fictional GOP nominee for president, who was Pro-Choice, stated an almost identical line to Giuliani’s on judges, but later confessed in private to his staff that he lied. I’m not sure I could vote for him, regardless of the egghead dem that is put up, short of a convincing change on this issue. This is regrettable because I like him otherwise. My president has to be a social conservative. Does anyone know if the other candidates have publicly stated what they would do on Court nominations?


Noonan February 9, 2007 at 10:15 pm

I came across this article which seems to be on point,


Sal February 10, 2007 at 9:05 am

Noonan, my thoughts on this are twofold. First, Giuliani was outspokenly supportive of of both Roberts and Alito during thier respective confirmation hearings. He has always been a proponent of the “Strict Constructionist” judicial philosophy, which to me is more important than being a social conservative as a jurist, because it is not the role of a judge to decide what is socially valid or not (keeping in mind that a strict constructionist / originalist would see Roe as anti-Constitutional). Finally, although I would probably not vote for him in the primary, it is perfectly legitimate to vote for the candidate in a general election that will do the least damage to the pro-life cause or would potentially do more, even if they are not a social conservative. With Rudy vs. She-who-must-not-be named, Rudy would at least give us a good shot at putting a strict constructionist on the bench. We know with absolute certainty that She would be far worse than a Rudy presidency, and a vote for a third party or to stay home would basically be a vote for Her.


Mike February 10, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Not to mention the guarantee of two more youthful Ginsburgs. A pro-choice Giuliani might give us two Souters, a Souter and a Thomas, or two Scalias. I don’t think Giuliani’s recent answers shed any light on that.

But he at least gives us a good chance at Justices who would overturn Roe. We shouldn’t let our short-soghted demands for purity elect a Democrat who will appoint Justices who guarantee another three decades of the silent hoocaust. I think we should probably oppose Giuliani in the primary (unless he convince people like us that he would nominate strict constructionists), but to oppose him in the general on those grounds will only please the abortionists. Becasue then their livelihood would be guaranteed


Noonan February 19, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Sal, while I agree that support of Alito and Roberts is a good sign, he also supported Ginsburg. A guy who got 4X the amount of money from NARAL as “she who must not be named” and is on record praising the pro-eugenics Margaret Sanger is not likely trustworthy enough to put up a strict constructionist judge. There are plenty of liberals who have their own notion of what a “strict constructionist” is and their definitions may not fit the term. I’m concerned Giuliani is one of them. I agree in principle with your 2nd point, that an individual who you may not vote for in the primary is the best choice in the general election. It must also be considered, however, that if an abortion sympathizer wins on the GOP ticket, it will be at least 2016 before we see another Pro-Life presidential candidate, and possibly longer. A Giuliani defeat in a general election would at least keep things open in 2012. I feel about him like I felt about Harriet Miers — he might do good things, but that just isn’t good enough. I just can’t see myself voting for him or one like him.

Mike, I agree that we need to avoid 2 more Ginsburgs, but no more than 2 Souters. I don’t see Giuliani putting up any Thomas’s. We’re on the same page as avoiding the costs of the “silent holocaust” but I don’t think a Pro-Choicer is ever going to put up the 5th Pro-Life vote on the court. The abortionists giving him more money than Hilary show their feelings about a Giuliani election. The only thing worse than a liberal democrat in the white house may be a liberal republican in the white house.


Mary (Noonan's wife) February 22, 2007 at 9:29 pm

I disagree with a policy of voting for the “lesser of 2 evils.” First let me say that I utterly despise Hilary Clinton and everything that she stands for. However, the pro-life movement is much stronger than many others and has more sucesses in its history than most other movements. This is the result of never settling for the lesser of 2 evils. That is how you lose a party’s attention. For example, I don’t think the labor movement is as strong as it should be because it is an issue supported largely by the democratic party, which doesn’t feel the need to work for its votes. Thus, they do not make progress because the candidates they throw their support behind ignore them. Bush won his second term in office because he is a social conservative and, while he made mistakes in other areas, he advanced the pro-life movement. If a pro-choice republican gains the party’s support in the primary, the republican party will lose the votes of those who will only vote for a pro-life candidate. It will be a set-back to be sure, but the republican party should not betray its pro-life supporters. There is no reason to settle for less than what you deserve.


Sal February 22, 2007 at 10:27 pm

My take on this is that in most circumstances you would be correct. Voting for the lesser of two evils is normally not a good option. However, I feel that the election of either She Who Must Not Be Named or Barak Hussein Obama would be absolutely devistating to our country. I think either of them has the potential to absolutely ruin everything that this country stands for. If either gets elected, the changes for a reversal of Roe V. Wade go down the drain for possibly 20 years. If there are no more vacancies before Bush leaves office, the next President will most likely replace two supreme court judges, Ginsburg and Stevens. Giuliani at least poses a shot of appointing a strict constructionist who will overturn Roe, while She poses absolutely no chance whatsoever. Once these two retire, the next judge in age is Scalia, and after that the judges are all relatively young. If She gets her way, the court will be divided 5-4 for a long time to come, and possibly 6-3 if Scalia ends up leaving anytime soon. Giuliani, on the other hand, HAS to get the Republican nomination again in 2012 if he wins. If either Ginsburg or Stevens come up, and he puts a bad candidate on the court, he loses the Republican primary in 2012, as most Conservatives who would support Giuliani would do so conditionally on his promise on judges. It’s a gamble that I might be willing to take, as the alternative is far less appealing.


Mike February 22, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Hi Mary!

This is weird but you’re both right. The GOP should only nominate a pro-lifer for President. The movement does indeed need one of the parties to support it.

But then comes the practical. If the choice is between a candidate who might pick a pro-life Justice and would not be renominated if he didn’t and someone who will definitley select more Ginsburgs, I’d have to take the gamble as well. The chance of protecting those children is worth the gamble. Voting third party only guarantees awful Justices. That is important because of the two Justices we’re talking about.

JP Stevens is in his mid 80s. It is doubtful he lasts until 2013. Ditto for the sickly Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Those two will most likely be replaced in the next President’s first term unless W. gets to do it first. (I hope those two retire so he can do so).

Rudy is pro-choice and that is most troubling. However, he may wind up operationally pro-life because of his judicial philosophy. Since that is where the battle is being fought, it makes the gamble feasible even though Rudy is actually pro-choice while being operationally pro-life (I’ll cite to that argument when I remember who articulated it). That said, i hope we don’t have to take a chance. I just don’t see anyone else who is going to emerge from the primary (Newt maybe?)


Mike February 22, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Congratulations by the way!


Mary (Noonan's wife) February 24, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Hey Mike! Thanks-Brian and I are excited!

While I respect your points, I strongly disagree with you guys. I think it would be a devastating blow to the pro-life movement if Giuliani got the GOP nomination.

Check out this site:

In case you didn’t read it, this is the most disturbing part of it to me:

“”Abortion rights, Giuliani said, fit well within the Republican Party’s philosophy of reducing the role of government in people’s lives. “So it is consistent with that philosophy to believe that in the most personal and difficult choices that a woman has to make with regard to a pregnancy, those choices should be made based on that person’s conscience and that person’s way of thinking and feeling,” he said. “The government shouldn’t dictate that choice by making it a crime or making it illegal.” At the NARAL lunch, Giuliani also said he and the assembled guests were “upholding a distinguished tradition that began in our city starting with the work of Margaret Sanger,” a founder of Planned Parenthood and a pioneer of distributing birth control to the poor.”

To, me, this is not necessarily the “lesser of 2 evils.” If the Republican Party chooses to allow this man to lead it, I (who have always been a loyal GOP voter even when I didn’t think the candidate was the best) will no longer feel loyalty to it. A party is never guaranteed a citizen’s vote, and I, while the idea of President Hilary terrifies me, would sooner allow the GOP to fall, and hopefully learn a lesson about betraying its voters, than vote for a man who praised a lunatic like Margaret Sanger at a NARAL conference. I know this is harsh, but I think this would set a precedent in the GOP that says “we’ll vote for you as long as your candidate is less pro-abortion than the other.” This is not a message I would be willing to send to the GOP, no matter who the Democratic candidate is (not that I’d vote for them but I’d probably go independent if it came to it). NARAL and PP do their best to fight pro-life democrats, and I am willing to fight pro-choice republicans.


Mike February 24, 2007 at 2:11 pm


I did read it and I agree in part. It would be most disturbing to nominate a pro-choice candidate for the reasons you give. Anyone who praises Sanger (don’t forget her forced sterilization idea) shouldn’t be the nominee of our party.

But the reasons you give don’t address judicial philosophy. A good judge does not impose his policy views in a decision. If a pro-choice Judge overturns Roe, it helps our cause. There is a good chance Giuliani would nominate a type of Justice that would help us out.

People don’t seem to realize that a politician’s and judge’s personal political views will often differ from their judicial decisions if the judge is a good judge. I blame the Warren court for the failure to distinguish. Because of their constant overreaching, people don’t seem to recognize the difference between judicial philosophy and political philosophy. Rudy is on record supporting Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia. The Ginsburg quote was taken out of context.

As far as the primary goes, I think you’re right. Messages must be sent, but if Rudy is the nominee, I’m not going to vote Republican. I refuse to sentence our unborn children to decades of abortion for the sake of sending a message. If there is a chance of getting more Scalias on the court, I’m taking the chance.


Noonan February 24, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Our positions seem driven by a common goal – to end abortion. Though I don’t hope to persuade you on post #19 here, I’ll reaffirm my respect for where you are coming from, what you stand for, and what you hope to accomplish. That said, here is my last go at it.

We seem to be on the same page in the primary, and I also agree that there can be a difference between a person’s “personal beliefs” on abortion and their judicial philosophy. I strongly believe Giuliani is bad for ending abortion, however, for the following reasons:

1. Beyond only nominating judges, the President has a broader impact on the abortion war. Take for example, the ongoing effort at the U.N. to declare abortion a human right. This has an incredibly powerful implication on the international abortion fight. Bush, who is Pro-Life, made sure he had Bolton in there, and without the U.S. effort to stop that effort, the abortionists would have succeeded there. A President also has the power to refuse to allocate all the funds Congress, (even the formerly GOP controlled Congress), gives to Planned Barrenhood and their overseas programs. To have a Pro-Choice GOP nominee would be incredibly demoralizing for the Pro-Life activists around the country and around the world, and would likely change the debate permanently. He may support candidates or not within his own party and have a heavy impact on candidate recruitment, changing the very face of the party. I also would second everything Mary articulated about how he would destroy the Pro-Life movement.

2. The distinction between a “personal philosophy” on abortion and what one does in their public philosophy is one that is consistently made by Pro-Choice individuals, and I have never seen an elected official making such a distinction behave more Pro-Life in their public capacity. Its always, “abortion is bad but unfortunately the law allows it and must.” Giuliani has not even proclaimed Roe is bad law that must be overturned. He has, however, before NARAL consecrated himself to their cause.

3. Again, while Giuliani pays lip service to Alito and Roberts, what do we know about his judicial philosophy other than his self-serving assertions? As a mayor, he has never nominated or voted on any judge. Even as far as his own assertions go, he has supported Ginsburg. If that was indeed taken out of context, I would be very interested in knowing what the proper context was, as that bears very heavily on what his understanding of a “strict constructionist” is. I think we all agree Ginsburg is nothing of the sort.

Further, consider his stance on 2nd Amendment rights. He has stated this should be a state issue. How does that show a proper understanding of the Constitution and not the typical liberal nonsense of putting personal policy beliefs ahead of the Constitution?

4. The more people that insist they would never vote for Giuliani should he get the nomination, the less likely he is to actually get the nomination. Consider that many people consider “electability” when making their primary votes. If enough of us band together and make it clear now that he is unacceptable, we are less likely to wind up with the inevitable split party he would cause should he get the nomination and a resulting 4-8 years of Hilary or O-bomb-us.

5. Should crap hit the fan, and Giuliani becomes Pres, and Stevens or Ginsburg or another dies, or possibly even retires, consider what that’s going to look like. You’ll have the judiciary committee chair and minority party leader on the judiciary committee, (Pro-Choice Specter and Pro-Choice Leahy) meeting with Pro-Choice Giuliani. The MSM will be cranking to paint whomever they choose as a true “strict constructionist.” In fact, they’ll actively generate names of every Pro-Choice jurist that they remotely believe might pass as a strict constructionist. Schumer will be on two Sunday morning talk shows a week emphasizing that this is the moment not to overturn Roe. The Pro-Life forces will be in a corner after having spoken so heavily against a filibuster, and perhaps remaining in the minority party, and very likely there will be more Pro-Choice votes than Pro-Life votes in the Senate. Following all this, are we really to hold out hope that Giuliani will buck his own personal beliefs and ambiguous statements as to what a strict constructionist is, and put a real Constitutional jurist on the court?

6. Consider also how Giuliani’s nomination could split the GOP for years on end and drive us to a permanent minority in this country. We’ll get the James Dobson / Pat Robertson / traditional social conservative party on one hand and the fiscal conservative but libertarian-esque Giuliani / Arnold / GOP name block on the other. The hapless Dems will have a majority gift wrapped for years as we wage war for the soul of the party.


Mike February 24, 2007 at 9:38 pm

You’re right. Our positions aren’t that different in terms of aims. This is my response since my views are pretty much known.

1. Agree.

2. I did not refer to the distinction between being personally pro-life and politically pro-choice. I know you didn’t intend to put word in my mouth though. I made the distinction between “personal positions (meaning political) and judicial, which are different if it’s a good judge. I agree he hasn’t specifically disclaimed Roe and have stated so on this site. I am just as hostile to the personal/political distinction as you are. I didn’t advocate it.

3. The “support for Ginsburg” was indeed taken out of context. I believe you quote it on your own site. He praised her brilliance in the context of appointee of the other party. We don’t deny the brilliance of Breyer but we’d never appoint him. On your own site, Giuliani said he differs from her politically, which I think refers to judicially because that all of her judicial decisions are political. The type of judge that is now mainstream thanks to Warren.

In terms of lip service, that’s the only thing someone who hasn’t appointed Justices can do. Technically, we’ve only paid lip service. I agree on your 2nd amend. point but he would not be the judge, he explained the type of judge he would appoint. I don’t know if I believe him or not. I’m not gung ho Giuliani, I called it a gamble. With SWMNBN, the outcome is certain.

4. agree.

5. you don’t know that and neither do I . Once again, you’re ignoring the distinction between jurisprudence and policy. Giuliani has described the types of justices he would nominate. It’s a pro-choice Senate now BTW. On the same topic, even you can’t credibly accuse Rudy of ever bowing to media pressure. He’s NEVER done that.

6. I mostly agree that’s why he probably doesn’t have my vote. But I think you should read Pat Robertson’s thoughts on the issue since you cite him. You might be surprised to learn he actually said Rudy would be a good president. And once again, this parag. seems to suggest I support Rudy in the primary when I haven’t supported anyone yet and have expressed more concerns about Rudy than most of the others.

In the end, if he gets it we shouldn’t condemn the unborn to her nominations. There is a time and a place to make a statement. That is not when we are 1 vote away from overturning Roe. We shouldn’t be as selfish to hold the children hostage to our desire to send a message.

I agree though. Our difference is to save the unborn. We should take the actions that might actually accomplish it though.


Mike February 24, 2007 at 9:55 pm

BTW Noonan. Comment 2 should put your mind at ease a bit re: myself if you’re not already.


Mary February 25, 2007 at 10:08 am

We’re never going to convince eachother.

However, I do not think it is fair to say that by not voting for Guiliani (if he even gets past the primaries), we will “be as selfish to hold the children hostage to our desire to send a message.” I do not think it is fair to accuse me of forgetting about the unborn children in an effort to send a message. This is about what I feel will save more children’s lives as I feel Guiliani as the GOP candidate would severly damage both the pro-life movement as well as the GOP, who needs the pro-life votes.

I honestly feel that, on the abortion issue, he is no better than the democratic candidates. The next supreme court justice nominations will be fought hard, on both sides as both side have a lot to lose. I do not trust him to put a judge who will see Roe vs Wade for what it is: bad law based on faulty priciples. He is clearly pro-choice and will do none of the good things that Bush has done (such as what Brian mentioned earlier, passing the Laci-Connor law, allowing nurses to be conscientious objectors when faced with the “obligation” to practice outside their moral beliefs, or veto embryonic stem cell research).

I do not feel that he will save more unborn children and if the time to tell the party that they put up a bad candidate is not through your votes, then when? That is the whole point of having independent candidates-so you can tell your party that some issues are so important to you that you will not compromise. Right now we are doing the right thing by publicly discussing it and planning to vote against this move in the primaries. However, if this does not work, the only other thing I know to do is to vote against him and in favor of a candidate who meets what I feel are the needs of the country. That is why we have independent candidates- to give voters someone to support should their party ignore them. If I felt Guiliani would overturn Roe and spare the lives of children, he would have my support wholeheartedly. However, I don’t, so he will not get my vote. With this, I am officially signing out of this political discussion.


Mike February 25, 2007 at 10:45 am

I hope you can live with two younger versions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the price of the message.


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