WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — Alarmed at the possibility that the Republican party might pick Rudolph W. Giuliani as its presidential nominee despite his support for abortion rights, a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate.
The threat emerged from a group that broke away for separate discussions at a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City of the Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative networking group. Participants said the smaller group included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps its most influential member; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail pioneer; and dozens of other politically oriented conservative Christians.
Almost everyone present at the smaller group’s meeting expressed support for a written resolution stating that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third-party candidate,” participants said....
For months, Christian conservatives have been escalating warnings that nominating Mr. Giuliani could splinter the party. Dr. Dobson wrote a column declaring that he would waste his vote before casting it for either Mr. Giuliani or a Democrat who supports abortion rights, like Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Some conservatives also noted that Mr. Giuliani has been divorced twice and married three times and is estranged from his children.
Will this be the nail in the coffin for the Republican Party? It seems to me that the only thing that could put a Republican in the White House in 2008 is their Evangelical base, and something like this could splinter that base. In 2004, there was still sufficient public support for the war for Bush to get reelected. There was still a large enough bloc of voters who believed that the war in Iraq was improving our national security. As of 2006, with the Democrats' sweep of the Congress, it was evident that that was no longer the case. That group of national security voters who believed the Iraq war was a good thing is gone. All the Republicans have left for 2008 is the Evangelicals, as they have next to zero credibility with anyone else. So why, I wonder, is the Republican party promoting a guy like Giuliani who is repugnant to their base (and certainly doesn't appeal to anyone else)? Romney is probably the closest thing the Republicans have to a "values" candidate, but there is a lot of concern that his Mormonism will turn off Evangelicals. I might have to do a posting on the whole "Are we ready for a Mormon President" thing later on. But the problem remains for the Republicans. I really tend to doubt they can win the 2008 election without mobilizing a LOT of "values" voters, because frankly, everyone else has long since turned against them because of the war. The only way I can possibly see the Republicans winning in 2008 is if Bush somehow manages to rally a lot of support for war on Iran, or if the Republican candidate runs against Hillary Clinton, who is a very easy target for attack ads. Any way you look at it, 2008, like 2004, will be about the war. There was enough support for Bush's reelection, but now there definitely is not--and I don't think that even the Evangelicals can save the Republicans now, and you can tell that by allowing the frontrunners they have to lead the party, the Republicans know it.