Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rudy Rising?

In 1996, Bob Dole was considered the GOP nominee simply because it was his turn. He was the Vice Presidential candidate in 1976 and ran for President in 1988. By 1996, many thought it was "his turn" to run for President and he did, losing to Bill Clinton.

As we head towards 2008, there was initial thought that this was John McCain's turn after having lost the bid for the GOP nomination in 2000. However, the old GOP rule of giving someone the nomination because it is their turn, may not apply in 2008. Why?

Two words: Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York City, is turning out to the man the to beat and may end up stealing McCain's thunder. Now, it is still early and there are other candidates that might take the nomination like Mitt ( I was for gay rights, but now I have seen the light because I want to be president) Romney, but there does seem to be a buzz about "America's Mayor."

More than a few journalists have written off Giuliani because of his socially liberal views on abortion and gay rights. And yet for some reason, there is still in a buzz in some GOP circles.

It's too early for me to say whether Rudy has a chance. I think there are indications that he just might for a few reasons.

First, I think that many social conservative voters are waking up and smelling the coffee after last November's losses. Many may not be looking for such a true believer like President Bush, who might have fuliflled all their wishes and yet subjected them to stinging defeat. After such a loss, there might be some room for pragmatism and looking over someone's "faults." When push comes to shove, a major political party wants to win.

Second, he is a hawk, which will speak highly in this age we live in. Terrorism is still an issue and people want someone who will fight terror smartly. His experience on 9/11 cemeted his image in the minds of many that he was a tough fighter. Will that translate into a conflict with Islamic fundamentalism? I don't know. On the down side, he is very supportive of the President's policies in Iraq at a time when most people, including many Republicans, have lost faith in this war. He's going to have to explain how he would handle Iraq differently and set a time table to getting our men and women home. I don't think the American public will accept an open-ended commitment- I know I won't.

Third, Rudy might spark the interest of moderate Republicans and independent voters. The mistake of the past six years has been to focus on the far right and ignore centrists. We have seen the end result. GOP leaders may have had enough of Rovism and are ready to start building a true coalition.

Of course, all of this is speculative. The GOP might just fall back to its old ways and choose someone like Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who might be a darling in the primaries, but wouldn't play in Peoria. Rudy's liberal views on gay rights and his dressing in drag might offend some social conservatives enough to doom his candidacy. A lot can happen in a year.

However, Giuliani's enterance into this race might be the shot in the arm that the GOP needs. Only time will tell though if the base will accept the former Mayor or look for a "far right messiah" who supports their views.

Andrew Sulivan makes his case for Rudy, as does the "Boi From Troy."

1 comment:

Pete Abel said...

Great post, and I agree with your take on Rudy. He's the surest shot we moderate Republicans have of returning the party to its roots.

(PS -- thanks for your comment at Central Sanity on my post re: "Saving the GOP." As a result, I added you to my blogroll and hope you'll consider doing the same.)