December 9, 2007


Rudy Giuliani grilled on 'Meet the Press' (THOMAS M. DeFRANK, 12/09/07, NY DAILY NEWS)

The only guest on Russert's "Meet the Press," Giuliani endured the most exhaustive and at times withering examination of his personal character and business dealings of his campaign.

To the glee of fellow Presidential contenders who've grudgingly marvelled at his political staying power, the Republican frontrunner spent nearly all of an hour playing defense, attempting to deflect a flurry of questions about his relationship with indicted pal Bernard Kerik and Kerik's mistress Judith Regan, controversial corporate clients and his own tangled personal life.

"He's held up in the polls a lot longer than anyone thought," a neutral GOP consultant predicted, "but the baggage is finally starting to catch up with him."

The point of maximum danger for a candidate is when such scandals threaten the ability to get your message out to voters. Bill Clinton was able to break through because he had a Third Way agenda calibrated to appeal to folks tired of GHW Bush. The Mayor though has no message and has to keep his record hidden from the GOP base. The only messages that may escape the black hole are just as deadly to his candidacy.

Are you there, God? It's me, Rudy: An unholy trinity of issues -- abortion, immigration and his messy personal life -- could hurt Giuliani's chances with his key constituency, Catholic voters. (Thomas F. Schaller, 12/10/07, Salon)

What matters today, instead of denomination, is devotion, and that's where Giuliani's fortunes may parallel Kerry's. To understand the intersection of religion and politics in America, as Akron University's John Green explains in his new book, "The Faith Factor: How Religion Influences American Elections," it is now more important to focus on "behaving" and "believing" than "belonging." Put simply, it's more instructive to know how often people attend church than what type of church they attend.

Frequency of church attendance, regardless of denomination, corresponds with conservatism on social issues like abortion. Sixty-three percent of Catholics who go to Mass weekly are antiabortion. In 2004, John Kerry's pro-choice stance was a clear liability among devout Catholics. White Catholics who attended church weekly were 9 percentage points more likely than less frequent attenders to vote for George Bush.

Rudy Giuliani, like John Kerry, is pro-choice. "As a pro-choice former mayor of New York City, it's hard to see how his Catholicism helps him," asserts Sean Casey, associate professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary. "Among moderate and conservative Catholics, because of his position on abortion, Giuliani does nothing for them. In fact, he looks like a turncoat of a worse variety than Kerry because he's a Republican."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 9, 2007 9:42 PM

Both Hugh Hewitt and the Politico's primary GOP watcher/blogger thought Rudy did pretty well on Russert's show today. I guess OJ had to rely on the Daily News for a Rudy slam. I suspect the Post would have a different take.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 10, 2007 1:34 AM

Tom DeFrank matters. Bloggers don't.

Posted by: oj at December 10, 2007 7:29 AM

Comment spam - nice. How much did he pay (and for what)?

Tom DeFrank is writing from New York. His column has about as much impact as Bob Herbert's. I don't know if it's the case here, but a lot of NY types are settling scores with Rudy now that he's gone national. And a lot of NY types (like Rupert) are hedging their bets regarding Hillary.

The Politico is not important, but Hewitt has a radio show, and a national audience. A small audience (I can't get him in NC), but an important audience for the GOP. He certainly has more credibility with the religious right than Robertson, Buchanan, and a host of other wannabes.

Rudy isn't perfect. But if the choice is between Rudy and Huckabee, we know who can win and who will lose 45 states. With Fred doing nothing, and Romney spinning, it is going to come down to Rudy and McCain.

I must admit, I chuckle at Hewitt and others who continue to write off McCain - they are in for a surprise. But in order for McCain to win, the others have to look worse, because most Republicans are not going to pick him first.

I do have a question, though - if Rudy's views are so far out of line that you think he will drop out, then why is Hillary the anointed for the Dems? She voted for the war, against the Quds, is ostensibly a NAFTA supporter, and doesn't even have that Third Way magic you keep talking about. On paper, she is just as far afield from Obama as Rudy is from Duncan Hunter or even McCain.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 10, 2007 8:36 AM

Impact? It has nothing to do with impact. It's a matter of analysis. DeFrank is capable of it. Bloggers aren't.

Posted by: oj at December 10, 2007 10:56 AM

Hewitt is blowing (so to speak) what little credibility he had left on the altar of the Mitt Romney candidacy.

He does not at all have the trust of the religious right, certainly not more that Robertson. He's a totally different animal.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at December 10, 2007 5:36 PM