Chris Cillizza reports this morning that influential Christian conservative Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani:
Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, announced his support for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Robertson’s support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions on abortion and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee.
The other major effect of Robertson’s support for Giuliani is that it will quiet talk in social conservative circles that nominating Giuliani would lead “values voters” to abandon the Republican Party. The stamp of approval from Robertson should assuage the doubts of many (although certainly not all) of the rank-and-file social conservatives.
No doubt this is huge for Giuliani, especially considering prominent Christian conservative James Dobson’s comments about Rudy earlier this year:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Religious conservative leader James Dobson will sit out the 2008 presidential election if former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the Republican presidential nominee, he wrote Thursday in an online column.
In a piece published on the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily, Dobson wrote that Giuliani’s support for abortion rights and civil unions for homosexuals, as well as the former mayor’s two divorces, were a deal-breaker for him.
“I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision,” he wrote.
“If given a Hobson’s — Dobson’s? — choice between him and Senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran — or if worse comes to worst, not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.”
Dobson, 71, is the founder and chairman of Colorado-based Focus on the Family, but said he was writing as “a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party.”
It’s quite possible that come election-time next year, that Christian conservatives will still be torn over whether or not to vote for Rudy (assuming he’s the nominee, of course) but I think Robertson’s endorsement will make it so that a significant number more of them will vote for Rudy than not (Captain Ed, on the other hand, isn’t so sure that will happen). The left hates Robertson, and of course Robertson has made some wild remarks over the last few years that have alienated some conservatives too, but in the end, Robertson still wields alot of influence in the Christian community (I’m guessing primarily amongst older voters). Rudy, who as we all know has struggled with trying to earn the support of social conservatives, surely must be smiling today.
And just for the record, my support for Rudy revolves around the belief that Hillary will be the nominee, not anything Pat Robertson says.