RightwingNews has (yet) another summary of the case againset Giuliani for the conservative GOP primary electorate.

While we agree that there are many things that are damning in the eyes of the electorate, we think that, to some extent, people are asking the wrong questions. I think that Chuck Larson gets it right in his discussion of McCain on Fox yesterday:

But from my perspective, the most important issue, whether it’s 2006 or 2008, is going to be national security and the global War on Terror. And Sen. McCain recognizes that we must win this war for our own nation’s security.

Now Larson is one of the leaders of moral conservatives in Iowa, but in the 3 reasons he gives for supporting McCain, his first is fiscal, his second in moral issues, but he thinks that McCain’s primary advantage is the war and security. This jives with what the RNC is telling people about motivating the base in 2006:

Ranking at the top of what will motivate Republicans in 2006 is dealing with the foreign threats to our national security and supporting the President’s leadership in the War on Terror. … A huge 87% of the Base expresses extremely strong feelings about one or more of these issues. …

For these three global War on Terror message areas, 93% of the Republican Base holds
extremely strong feelings about one or more of them.

Cultural Values. … An impressive 86% of the Base has extremely strong feelings about issues dealing with cultural issues – second in coverage to only the global War on Terror.

In other words, the big issues are security and moral issues. Fiscal issues, immigration, taxes, etc. all come far lower in the priorities. (interestingly, the RNC memo does not mention immigration at all. There could be a number of explanations for that. One of the simplest is that it is an issue that the leadership is divided on or might make voters angry. Another is that people probably won’t vote on it)
What we really think that means is that candidates have to pass a litmus test for conservatives (is he with us on abortion and other issues?) and then security and other issues will differentiate the candidates. Moral issues get people into consideration, not pick the candidate. We think that the recent Hotline/Diego poll makes this clear. GOPers #1 issues are terrorism and Iraq. Dems are Iraq (against) and jobs.

Therefore, we think that GOP primary voters are going to be asking “Which acceptable conservative do we want to lead the war on terror?” What does this mean for 08?

  1. If caucusgoers and primary voters are informed about Giuliani, he is going to struggle a lot. Giuliani has been doing great in the polls recently. However, the recent Iowa poll noted that 2/3rds of Iowa caucus voters will not support someone who doesn’t share their position on abortion. Will that hold? And who will tell the story on Giuliani? Clearly that is what RightWingNews is trying to do. And why don’t people ask if they are familar with Giuliani’s position on abortion, gay marriage, etc.? That would really tell us about his level of support.
  2. Romney’s greatest problem is that he has no record on the War on Terror or foreign policy. None. Even if people like him on gay marriage or healthcare or management, I predict that they will have a lot of trouble seeing him as Commander in Chief. Sure he can run the country, but can he lead it? Northeast liberals elect Republicans because they can manage and their legislatures can slap them down if they try to do something too far off the reservation.
  3. Newt Gingrich passes both tests. But will GOP voters think he is electable?
  4. McCain is the winner in this framing. He is probably acceptable to most conservatives (and he is finding people who will say “trust us, he’s fine”) on moral issues and he is a clear leader on the War (and I don’t mean Iraq).
  5. Everyone else is an also ran. Although people who vote for the most morally conservative candidate will have a choice between Huckabee or Brownback. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Therefore, until Romney gets a national security reputation of some sort or polls indicate that Giuliani can overcome his issues with social conservatives, McCain really is the front runner… And Newt Gingrich is the powerful challenger.


5 Comments

eyeon08.com » Presidential Candidates at Value Voters Conference · August 29, 2006 at 2:34 PM

[…] eyeon08.com Watching the 2008 pre-election « Motivating Conservatives, Security, and the 2008 Presidential Race […]

eyeon08.com » Republicans Need Volunteers · August 29, 2006 at 3:39 PM

[…] As we noted earlier, Right Wing News has an analysis why Rudy may not be acceptable. Ann Althouse argues that those reasons make him more attractive to her (self-consciously in the middle). She says: But what about the potential to appeal to people like me who are in the middle? What I like about Giuliani is his ability to embody the strong national security position and to argue for it in clear, persuasive terms, without bringing along that social conservative baggage. All those people who vote for Democrats, are they doing it because they are into the party and all it seems to stand for? Or are they put off by the social conservatives on the other side? […]

eyeon08.com » For McCain, is campaign finance the new abortion? · August 31, 2006 at 7:54 AM

[…] Patrick Hynes, who does work for Straight Talk, says that his issues are abortion and GWOT and that, of the serious candidates — and I note that he excludes Newt from this list — he has to support McCain.  I have argued that these will be, loosely, the most important positions for the GOP electorate in 08. So let’s look at this argument.  BDP takes BCRA/CFR as McCain’s great apostasy: The McCain-Feingold CFR Act is quite simply the biggest assault on our 1st Amendment right of free speech in the history of the country.   Why John McCain and the people who voted for this disgraceful bill (and President Bush who signed it) are so damned afraid of being criticized before an election is beyond me. […]

eyeon08.com » Why I think Bill Frist is not serious · August 31, 2006 at 2:29 PM

[…] In fact, Chris Cilliza points out that he should take comfort in this poll. But the way that I read it was that he came in 3rd by being the most well-known GOPer who was not Giuliani, McCain, or Pataki. In other words, he was the most well-known non-New Yorker or McCain. Second, ultimately, I believe that the 2008 primary is going to be about security and keeping the moral conservative base satisfied. Does Frist have any national security experience other than being a majority leader? […]

Tel-Chai Nation · September 2, 2006 at 12:32 PM

Some startling facts about Rudy Giuliani…

Right Wing News alerted me to some things I did not know clearly about before regarding former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. For example, he’s pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, but also…he’s soft on illegal immigration. Real Clear Politics’ Tom Bevan had t…

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