What Are Brownback And Giuliani Up To?

by | October 25, 2007

Alex Bolton has a great piece in The Hill about today's meeting between Sam Brownback and Rudy Giuliani. It made me think three things:

1.) Notwithstanding the meeting, it would be pretty hard for Brownback to endorse Giuliani. Consider, for example, this passage involving an anti-abortion activist in Iowa:

Kim Lehman, president of Iowa Right to Life Committee and a member of the Iowans for Brownback Leadership Committee ... said she would be stunned if Brownback backed Giuliani.

“I find it simply hard to believe because Giuliani has expressed his position to even pay for abortion,” she said.

I just don't see how Brownback endorses Giuliani without threatening his own standing as a social conservative leader. If Giuliani got his endorsement, I think a lot of Brownback supporters would simply disregard it and go with Huckabee or whomever, which would be a lousy outcome for a would-be king-maker like Brownback.

2.) The fact Brownback is even meeting with Giuliani suggests to me that he must really not like Mitt Romney. I read the meeting almost as a slap at Romney--as if Brownback is saying, "I'm so skeptical about your conversion on social issues that I'd endorse the pro-choice guy before I endorsed you." It looks like Marc Ambiner and Mike Allen/Jonathan Martin were right about this after all. I'm pretty close to throwing in the towel on my (admittedly longshot) Romney-endorsement prediction.

3.) For months, pundits have been puzzling over Giuliani's relatively strong showing in the polls among social conservatives. They've explained it by suggesting that these voters don't yet know how liberal Giuliani is on a lot of social issues, and that they'll abandon him once they find out. That may still be true for Giuliani. Alex's piece suggests it may also be true for Romney. Alex writes that Lehman, the aforementioned anti-abortion activist, "said that social conservatives are beginning to peel away from Romney as they learn of statements he made in favor of abortion rights when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002."

I think many of us assumed that social conservatives knew Romney's position on abortion had evolved, and that they supported him nonetheless (on pragmatic grounds, and because they tend to be open to conversions). But maybe they didn't actually know this. In fact, given their relative ignorance of Giuliani's views, there's no reason to think they would have. Romney is, after all, much less well known across the country than Giuliani.

 --Noam Scheiber 

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