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October 29, 2007

The Myth of Rudy Giuliani’s Electability


Most Republican presidential candidates can brag about attracting followers with their valiant stances on important issues.


John McCain’s supporters will point to the senator’s steadfast stance on Iraq as the primary reason they intend to vote for him, as, paradoxically, might Ron Paul’s ardent adherents.


Tom Tancredo rallies anti-immigration enthusiasts behind his banner, and Fred Thompson attracts supporters with his understanding of federalism and his consistent conservatism.


Rudy Giuliani’s followers support him because they think he can beat Hillary Clinton.


In and by itself, the reasoning of Giuliani’s supporters is not illogical. Many people do take into account electability when voting for a primary candidate (although most will not sacrifice their basic principles in the name of an election victory).


The problem is, this perceived electability is the only – only – thing going for Giuliani.


But here is the real kicker: Giuliani is not electable.


In fact, he is far less electable than the only other Republican frontrunners understood to be capable of beating Hillary, namely Fred Thompson and John McCain.


To this, Giuliani’s people inevitably shout the following talking points: First, Giuliani’s moderate standpoint will attract unaffiliated voters, and can help Republicans make up for the unpopularity they have inherited from the George W. Bush years. Second, Giuliani has a lot of conservative accomplishments going for him – just look at how he handled 9/11, reduced crime in New York City, and how he umm, reduced crime in New York City while handling 9/11!


They fail on both points.


First, Giuliani is a liberal. He supports abortion, and welcomes illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities. He opposes gun rights. He supported a Democratic candidate for governor in New York, and among his 75 judicial appointments, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than eight to one.


Though he attempted to knock Thompson on tort reform in the last presidential debate, he failed to mention his own poor record on the matter. Only a few years ago he sued two dozen gun manufacturers and distributors for essentially being functioning gun manufacturers and distributors, calling them “an industry which profits from the suffering of innocent people.”


Giuliani’s supporters will concede that he is not that conservative on social issues, but that really it is a good thing because we don’t want extremist evangelical Christians taking over the GOP. But opposing abortion, illegal immigration, gun control and liberal judges does not make you an extremist. It merely makes you conservative.


Knowing they lose on the social issues, the Giuliani team holds on tight to fiscal matters allegedly showing that the man is really conservative. Since economic questions are often not as black and white as social topics, the Giuliani team knows that critics will have a harder time debunking the myth of Giuliani’s economic conservatism.


But it can be done, and briefly so.


Giuliani tenaciously battled the line-item veto, which allows the executive to cut waste from legislative bills, taking the fight as far as he could in the courts. Giuliani also defied the promise of free trade – perhaps the only concept economists virtually unanimously support – through his ardent opposition to NAFTA.


Giuliani increased spending in New York from less than $22 billion to over $27 billion in less than a decade. When Congress for once got its act together by reforming welfare in the mid-90s, Giuliani fervently opposed the reforms. His big government economic policies don’t stop here. Giuliani has fallen with Democrats on Medicare, supported increasing the minimum wage and backed regulations such as rent control.


These facts might explain why Giuliani indiscriminately answers “crime” and “George Will said I’m conservative” during the presidential debates as many times as Ron Paul brings up “foreign policy” in response to completely unrelated questions. Giuliani has nothing else to run on in order to win over conservatives. Unlike the other candidates, he cannot brag about his primary strength – the perception that he is electable.


Unfortunately for Giuliani, he is not even that. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 27 percent of Republicans would vote for a conservative third party if Giuliani wins the Republican nomination and faces Clinton. According to the poll, Giuliani would get 30 percent of the total tally, the third party 14 percent and Clinton 46 percent. Even in head-to-head matchups that don’t account for a third party, Giuliani would fare absolutely no better than Thompson, as a Rasmussen poll released last Sunday demonstrates.


But the fact is, the general election will be no head-to-head match up if Giuliani is the Republican nominee. In 2004, the Constitution Party ran Michael Peroutka against President Bush, now widely considered to have pandered to social conservatives in extreme fashion. You bet these social conservatives would run a candidate against nominee Giuliani. You bet the Libertarian Party would eat away more Republican votes. And you bet Clinton would win.


Giuliani is a liberal. And if nominated by the GOP, he would be a liberal running against someone who is better at being liberal. He would have to compete just as hard for conservative votes as for liberal and moderate votes, and he will lose.


Giuliani is not conservative. Giuliani is not electable. A thorough look at his record, the polls and the political reality cannot lead to any other conclusion. He’s got the worst of both worlds.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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