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January 29, 2008

Strange Speculation: Giuliani Could Have Won By *Highlighting* His Pro-Choice Position

Debra Saunders offers this very counterintuitive idea, possibly because she's on deadline and needs a new angle.

Her theory -- which I guess is superficially plausible -- is that in a badly divided field with five (or six!) candidates all drawing between 10 and 25% of the vote, Giuliani's stance as a pro-choice, tough-guy Republican candidate could have won the thing for him -- if only by a bare plurality.

I don't buy that at all. Had Giuliani done that, he may have eked out narrow pluralities in early states -- but, as is happening now, the field would have winnowed to two or three candidates, and Giuliani would now be facing the overwhelming majority of GOP voters who are staunchly pro-life.

A very pro-choice Giuliani would now be facing, most likely, a pro-life Mitt Romney -- and even if he did manage, somehow, to win 40 or 50% of the vote in many Mega Tuesday contests, the base would largely dislike him. And that would make for a tough go in the general election.

It's an interesting angle but, I think, not very convincing.

The conventional wisdom -- my wisdom -- is boring but most likely right: Giuliani should have been much stronger in calling for the repeal of Roe v. Wade (a perfectly respectable legal opinion, even among many liberals who support abortion rights) while allowing, truthfully, that as to policy, he favored the pro-choice side.

Not enough to win it for him, perhaps, but enough to blunt the resistance to his candidacy from the pro-life voters.

I should also note that not only did Giuliani's pro-choice stance alienate pro-life voters, it alienated me, and I'm fairly pro-choice. Or at least not nearly pro-life.

I knew that by being so insistent on carrying that position, he just wasn't a very credible candidate, and didn't, as has been said of Fred Thompson, want it enough. At least not to jeopardize his Decisive Leader persona. So that cooled my enthusiasm for Giuliani an awful lot (and I was big on Giuliani long ago, as many of you know).

I wasn't sure how he was going to address the abortion question, but I never imagined he would just stand at a podium at a debate and say "I'm pro-choice, that's what I am..." somewhat apologetically, but without offering much of a reason for pro-lifers to overlook that fact.

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posted by Ace at 06:10 PM

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