Former New York City Mayor and Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani addressing abortion on May 9, 2007 in Huntsville, Alabama.
Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Friday urged conservatives to look past his support for abortion rights, arguing that his divergence on the issue should not disqualify him from being the party’s GOP nominee.
The former New York City mayor has struggled in the last week to explain his personal opposition to terminating pregnancies with his long record of favoring a woman’s right to choose. He has defended his positions â€” and some say contradictory comments â€” on late-term abortion, public funding for abortions and the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“Everybody’s got to make a choice,” Giuliani told about 500 students, faculty and staff crammed into an auditorium at Houston Baptist University. “How important are the differences and how important are the other issues we may agree on.”
Giuliani emphasized his conservative credentials on tax cuts, crime and the war in Iraq before clarifying his support for abortion, a position he acknowledged was unlikely to be shared by those listening.
So, what did Rudy say about abortion and abortion rights?
Describing his belief that abortion was “morally wrong,” Giuliani said he has opposed it all his life. But he said he believes the decision should ultimately be left to individuals and that their decisions should be respected.
“In a country like ours … I believe you have to respect their viewpoint and give them a level of choice. I would grant women the right to make that choice,” he said.
“I have profound respect for your views,” he said. “I have profound respect for your education, and I have profound respect for your religion.” But, he said, it is uniquely American to disagree on some political issues while agreeing on many others.
“We understand how to respect each other’s differences,” he said.
Let’s look at the polls and the abortion question. Here are some polls that Flap linked yesterday.
Note well that 69% of votes said they could vote for a candidate with different views on abortion and ONLY 22% said they could not. Also, that a majority of voters believe abortion always should be legal or usually legal.
Note a majority of those polled believe the choice on abortion is best left between a woamn and her doctor. And, the oppostion of those polled to partial birth abortion.
But our analysis pointed out that there’s much less polarization on abortion than we’ve seen in the past — a move toward moderation, with fewer people saying it should be either legal, or illegal, in all cases. That, too, may fit Giuliani’s strategy.
A final element is how Giuliani casts his position. Views on abortion are highly conditional, not easily captured in an overall support/oppose question. There are cases (e.g. rape) in which support for legal abortion is enormous. There are others (e.g. solely to end an unwanted pregnancy) in which most oppose the procedure. The health of the mother is an issue. So is the perceived right for a woman to act privately, with her doctor’s consultation; yet so too are moral objections about terminating a pregnancy.
All these make abortion less a black-and-white issue and more a question of competing sentiments for many Americans. On this tightrope, Rudy Giuliani does not stand alone.
Read it all and ABC’s: Views on Abortion Grow Less Polarized
Next, let’s look at issues that most concern the American voter:
Flap doesn’t see abortion mentioned.
So, you ask what is the point?
The mayor has taken a beating from conservative pundits this past week on abortion. But…….
1. His pro-choice views are mainstream and supported by a majority of American voters.
2. Abortion although an important issue is not of paramount importance by Americans in choosing who will be their next President.
3. Abortion is not a disqualifying issue by 2/3 of the voters.
Can we move on……like the Mayor told Laura Ingraham.
And like the Wall Street Journal Today exhorts its readers here (subscription required).
As for the politics of 2008, the last thing the GOP needs is another intramural abortion brawl. As a resurgent Democratic Party advances all manner of misguided proposals for the economy, taxes, national security, health care, energy and the environment, voters need Republicans to revive their own reform agenda. An abortion fight will make the party seem irrelevant to the main voter concerns, or captive to its litmus test interests.
Mr. Giuliani has his strengths and weaknesses, but he shouldn’t be disqualified for the nomination because of his views on a single issue that a President can’t do much to change other than through the courts. The only victor in a drawn-out GOP abortion donnybrook will be the Democrat who winds up in the White House.
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