Update: Hugh Hewitt responds to the Giuliani bit with an explanation that reminds me of Jonah Goldberg’s thesis.

The Hill interviewed Richard Land, the Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention. He had some interesting comments to make about the leading candidates for President. First, Rudy Giuliani:

Beginning with Giuliani, Land said “the vast majority” of social conservative voters will not vote for the former mayor even if he gets the nomination and faces off against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Furthermore, a Fox News poll pointed out that 57% of GOP voters do not know that Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice:

The biggest red flag for Rudy has to be that only 42% of Republicans surveyed correctly identified him as pro-choice. Twenty-one percent of Republican voters have it wrong and think Rudy is pro-life, and another 36% of Republicans don’t have a clue what his position on abortion. In other words, nearly six out of ten registered Republican voters have yet to learn something about Rudy which, we can infer from the first question on abortion, will make close to half of them either "somewhat" less likely or "a lot" less likely to vote for him.

Land also claimed that Rudy’s "personal" problems will create a real problem for Rudy, and Newt!

He also thought that John McCain had problems, with the standard list of problems — judges and BCRA:

Though Land doesn’t question McCain’s consistency on abortion issues, he said McCain’s involvement in the “Gang of 14” — the bipartisan Senate group that prevented the “nuclear” option on judicial nominees — and his refusal to support anti-gay marriage proposals severely hurts his chances with traditional-values voters.

In the end, Land said, social conservatives are concerned about the kind of judges a President McCain would nominate.

Voting pro-life is not enough,” Land said. “He has got to express himself in other venues

Perhaps the most interesting was statements on Romney:

“Conservatives would see that as ‘He’s seen the light,’” Land said. “They would see it as less of a flip-flop than as a journey.”

Of Romney’s Mormon religion, Land said it’s not a “deal-killer.

However, the leader of the SBC’s North American Missions Board, which is responsible for evangelizing to Americans, had some very harsh words to say about Mormonism in the context of Romney and the LDS Church’s PR plan:

He says although the Mormon Church wages an expensive public relations campaign, using terms familiar to appeal to evangelicals, the core teachings of the church do not line up with scripture and are inconsistent with evangelical Christianity.

If the Southern Baptists respond to the LDS PR campaign with their own… wow.

About the 2nd-tier candidates Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, Land had some positive statements:

“They don’t have to convince other social conservatives they’re one of them,” Land said. “They just have to convince other social conservatives they can win.”

He was slightly more effusive in support of Huckabee, but they have been allies in Southern Baptist denominational politics in the past, so that must be taken with a grain of salt.