Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani rose in the polls this week after receiving a surprise endorsement from televangelist Pat Robertson, but political strategists are divided on whether Robertson will help Giuliani’s campaign, or hurt it.
What the commentators said
Giuliani’s on a roll, said Larry Kudlow in National Review Online. Polls show he has surged into a “dead heat” with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and Robertson’s “hugely important endorsement” has sent a “clear” message to social conservatives that “it’s now OK to vote for Rudy.” The race for the nomination will be Giuliani’s to lose if he can keep the focus on fighting terrorism and get voters to treat abortion as one of many important issues.
There’s no doubt Robertson’s stamp of approval will help the twice-divorced, pro-choice Giuliani court religious conservatives, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial (free registration). But talk about “strange bedfellows.” Giuliani can claim he’s just welcoming more people into “a big tent, but too many endorsements like this could turn his campaign into a circus.”
If Giuliani is going to embrace a “huckster” like Robertson, said Joe Conason in Salon.com, he’ll have to “explain exactly where he and his new best friend agree.” Specifically, does Giuliani share Robertson’s insistence that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee separation of church and state? Does he agree that criticizing the commander-in-chief during war is treason? And does Rudy think America deserved the 9/11 terrorist attacks because it tolerates abortion and gay rights?
A lot of people are “scratching their heads” about this one, said Michael Reagan in HumanEvents.com. But it’s Robertson who’ll have to answer for “backing a man who stands opposed to just about every moral issue of vital importance to most Christians.” So why did he do it? Simple. Robertson is practical. He figured Giuliani was the GOP candidate “most likely to top the Hillary train from roaring into the White House,” and he chose what he saw as “the lesser of two evils.”
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