This Real Clear Politics article appears in the comments thread of the Patrick Ruffini post I linked to earlier this week. The godfather of the religious right, Rev. Pat Robertson, appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” last Sunday, and gave a qualified endorsement of Rudy Giuliani while downplaying two other erstwhile frontrunners, Senators John McCain and Bill Frist. On the issue of whether a Giuliani nomination would cause the religious right to bolt from the party, Robertson said:
I don’t think so. Rudy is a very good friend of mine, and he did a super job running the City of New York. And I think he’d make a good president. I like him a lot. Although he doesn’t share all of my particular points of view on social issues, he’s a very dedicated Catholic. And he’s a great guy.
On Frist, Robertson said, “Bill is a wonderfully compassionate human being. He is humanitarian. He goes on medical missions. He’s a delightful person. I just don’t see him as a future president,” while on McCain, Robertson said he’d vote against him “under any circumstance.”
Robertson’s comments on behalf of Giuliani’s character are a real coup for the former NYC mayor. They indicate, as I noted below, that at least some religious conservatives are willing to overlook differences on social issues in order to pick a tough, strong leader who would have a good shot at keeping the White House for the GOP. I don’t think one can just dismiss Giuliani outright anymore as too liberal to win the nomination. At least one major religious right player is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I wonder what Focus on the Family host James Dobson thinks about Giuliani. He’s been more willing to criticize GOP leadership than Robertson in recent months, indicating that he expects some payback from the Bush administration for delivering evangelical Christians to the polls last November. If Dobson has similiar kind words about Giuliani, 2008 may end up being less exciting than advertised.