Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Don't bet against Rudy

At least that's what Richard Baehr has to say. Baehr points out that Rudy Giuliani, "America's Mayor," holds a strong hand going into the 2008 race by touting leadership as the key issue to electing the next president:

Giuliani's message is about leadership, not just competence. Leadership is all about communication, and one of the biggest issues Republicans have with the current administration is its inability to successfully communicate a message on the stakes in Iraq, the success of the economy, or new policies on immigration and energy independence.

However, he devotes the most space handicapping Giuliani's chances to secure the GOP nomination in 2008 through his ability to appeal to the three major factions within the Republican Party. Baehr divides Repubs into the national security, big buisneess and social conservative wings. He doesn't believe Giuliani will have too much trouble winning support among the first two, but will have to work to convince the third group he is a bonafied conservative.

To win social conservatives, Baehr writes that three approaches are available. Some social conservatives have suggested that Giuliani simply change his position on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, an approach Baehr rejects as insincere and likely to fail. A second approach calls for Giuliani to meet with leaders in the conservative evangelical movement, something Giuliani is already doing. The third approach, the one Baehr sees as the most effective, is to announce his praise of George W. Bush's appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court and vow to continue appointing similar justices if he gets the opportunity.

For the most part, I believe Baehr gets it right. Many dismiss Giuliani's prospects because some of his socially liberal beliefs. Staying in harmony with the current tide of judicial appoinments would assure many social conservatives that Giuliani did not represent a radical change in GOP presidential candidates. To go beyond Baehr's point, I believe Giuliani would also be able to convince most social conservatives of his sincerity. He shouldn't have a Damascus Road conversion to socially conservative positions. That would be pandering. He only needs to show that he respects the position of social conservatives instead of treating them like a bunch of rubes who threaten to reverse years of social progress. Minus skeletons in the closet, Giuliani for president '08 is a serious prospect.

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