Giuliani's popularity in '08 race alarms religious conservative leaders
Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, and Gary Bauer, of American Values, were guests at a Monitor breakfast Wednesday.
Washington - It is tough time for religious conservatives.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"We are struggling about what to do in a very difficult election cycle," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values, at a Monitor breakfast Wednesday. The nonprofit group describes itself as "defending life and traditional marriage" as well as standing against "liberal education and cultural forces."
Affiliated for 30 years with a Republican Party that has defined itself as pro-life and pro-family, religious conservatives are viewing the current GOP presidential race with alarm. A key reason: The candidate sitting atop the national polls is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who supports a woman's right to choose an abortion and who favors at least some rights for gay partners.
Whether Mr. Giuliani would be an acceptable Republican candidate is an issue which exposes fault lines among movement leaders.
"He gives social conservatives very little to be motivated about," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which describes itself as championing "marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society."
Giuliani " has stated a pro-abortion-rights position. There is nothing more fundamental to social conservatives than the preservation of human life, the sanctity of human life. Right behind that is the issue of marriage. He is wrong on that issue as well," Mr. Perkins said at the breakfast.
He offers only a barely concealed warning to the Republican Party. "If they break faith with evangelical social conservatives on these issues, I believe a lot of social conservatives will break ranks with the GOP. I don't think it is enough to scare them with Hillary."
"Of all the candidates, Mayor Giuliani is the most problematic from the standpoint of values-motivated voters," Mr. Bauer said. "There is no question about that."
But Bauer raised the issue of an apparent divide among religious conservatives. "It is important for those of us in Washington who speak for the movement to not get too far ahead of our followers. And ... one of the reasons there is so much frustration is that social conservatives seem to be divided right now about what they are looking for."
Despite Giuliani's positions on social issues, "If you look at regular church attendees across the country, Giuliani has a clear plurality of those voters," Bauer said. He added, "Now there could be a number of reasons for that. One is they don't fully realize his position on the social issues. The other possibility, though, is that some of these voters have decided that defending Western civilization is a moral issue, too. "