How Rudy Changed His Position on Abortion... in 1989
Many keyboards have been worn out speculating on whether and to what extent Rudy will modify his position on abortion in the coming campaign. For guidance on this question, we must turn to a little known incident from Rudy's 1989 campaign for mayor that I'm amazed hasn't gotten more attention.
On page 28 of Fred Siegel's The Prince of the City: Giuliani and the Genius of American Life, Siegel recounts how Giuliani formed some of the positions he took in his first campaign, and the influence of a liberal lawyer named Jennifer Raab who worked for him at the time:
Giuliani, who had once thought of going into the priesthood, was deeply immersed in the Catholic tradition and enjoyed debating ideas. He was driven by both personal ambition and a strong moral compass, but his political affiliations he held far more lightly. He began, like most New York Italian Catholics, as a Democrat, but like many ethnics he moved away to become an independent in 1977 and eventually a Republican at the start of the Reagan years. Still, noted his 1989 issues director Jennifer Raab, "he was largely undefined on the local political issues." "In New York," she said, "there are a thousand interest groups with passionately held positions on issues where Giuliani had no opinion" and "almost no staff" to give him one.For this much mused about debate about Rudy and abortion, we have a woman named Jennifer Raab to thank.
He wrestled with his conscience on abortion, waffled -- and then under the influence of liberal Republicans like State Senator Roy Goodman, the pro-abortion Liberal Party and Raab, who made it clear that opposition to abortion would cost him dearly in votes from Jewish women, Giuliani went pro-choice.
At first blush, this doesn't appear to be all that comforting a sequence of events for social conservatives. But step back, and the clear pattern is one of Rudy doing what needed to be done to get elected in New York City, where the Republican Party is about as popular as tuberculosis.
Anti-Rudyites have mused that Rudy is not just pro-choice, but pro-abortion. Not true. This passage can give us at least some comfort that Rudy is no pro-choice zealot and will eagerly go to the mat for his constituents, in this case Republican primary voters.
Having flipped once, it might seem to calculating of him to flip again. But Rudy is a guy with his hears to the ground, and as the lone candidate with experience in the judicial system, is probably well aware of the safety net social conservatives are offering him on strict constructionist judges.