The Conservative Case for Rudy Giuliani
Editor's Note: I really couldn't have put it better than DaveG. His exhaustive case for Rudy Giuliani from a conservative perspective is reprinted below in full.
John Hawkins of Right Wing News makes the conservative case against Rudy Giuliani for 2008. Hawkins’ piece largely consists of the same old anti-Rudy arguments wrapped in slightly new packaging, focusing a lot on Rudy’s decade-old socially liberal positions on a few cultural issues, as well as his Manhattanite personal life and some nonsense about unelectability (more on that later). As such, I think this is a great opportunity for someone to lay out the conservative case for Rudy in ‘08. And that someone might as well be me.
Giuliani: Pro-growth tax-cutter
Rudy Giuliani has proven, both during his tenure as mayor of New York and through his subsequent rhetoric, that he is a pro-growth Republican in the mold of Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, and Newt Gingrich. As mayor, Giuliani cut city taxes by more than eight billion dollars, reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers by 22%. Giuliani’s low-tax views remain intact. As Race42008 correspondent Kavon noted yesterday, Rudy’s recent visit to Minnesota included an emphasis on achieving economic growth via low taxes and less regulation on the economy. Rockefeller he ain’t; Rudy’s a Reagan Republican.
Rudy: Gingrich-style government reformer
Conservatives who liked Newt’s welfare reform and GWB’s attempt at entitlement reform have an ally in Rudy. As mayor, Giuliani reformed welfare in New York with the same tenacity as the class of ‘94 in Congress. Once again, this ain’t Christie Whitman we’re dealing with; Rudy’s a Newt Republican who also made a serious attempt to take on the teachers’ unions in NYC and fund school choice via charter schools. A President Giuliani means a conservative reformer who will fight for market-based revisions to our age-old bureaucratic messes in Washington.
Rudy Giuliani: Fiscal conservative
As mayor, Rudy Giuliani cut the New York City government payroll by 19%, eliminating unnecessary civil servants from the public dole. Can anyone remember the last time a Republican president was able to send lazy federal workers packing? Inheriting a multi-billion dollar deficit, Rudy turned it into a surplus, delivering eight consecutive balanced budgets. Folks, this ain’t Linc Chafee we’re talking about here.
Giuliani: Tough enough to take on the bad guys
Unlike the Democrats, who are too nuanced to acknowledge that the “bad guys” in life even exist, Rudy Giuliani knows how to identify a threat to safety and security and pound that threat into submission. Giuliani’s record on crime in NYC is well-documented; if Rudy is able to do to the terrorists what he did to the crime lords of the Big Apple, Americans will once again be able to feel secure in an uncertain world. Sure, every Republican will talk tough on terror, but only Rudy’s proven he actually knows how to eliminate a threat terrorizing a population.
Rudy will secure our borders
An essential component of national security includes securing America’s borders. Unfortunately, President Bush has been unwilling to take the necessary steps to accomplish that task. While John McCain and Mitt Romney discuss “comprehensive” solutions, Rudy is ready to do what it takes to prevent individuals from illegally entering the United States. During his recent visit to Minnesota, Rudy laid out his immigration plan, which begins with sealing the borders and also involves ensuring that immigrants learn English so that they can be better assimilated into American culture. As such, Rudy is to the right of President Bush on this issue.
Giuliani would appoint strict constructionists to the judiciary
Social conservatives who want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and who fear the imposition of same-sex marriage on unwilling populations by judicial fiat have a friend in Giuliani. Rudy has now explicitly voiced support for the appointment of strict constructionists to the federal bench. His recent trip to Minnesota included an admission that he would appoint judges like Roberts and Alito. During this same trip, Rudy also confirmed that he believes legislatures, and not judges, should set policy. A Giuliani presidency would now almost certainly fail to yield judicial rulings from the federal bench in favor of gay marriage, and would be at least as likely as any other Republican presidency to see abortion returned to the political process, where it belongs.
Rudy believes that marriage is between a man and a woman
Mayor Giuliani has made clear his belief in traditional marriage only; that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman, and in no other form. Says Rudy:
“I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that it should remain that way, it should remain that way inviolate, and everything should be done to make sure that that’s the case,…”
Some social conservatives are uncomfortable that Rudy doesn’t support amending the Constitution to make sure this definition of marriage stands. But Rudy has made clear that he’ll do whatever it takes to maintain the traditional definition of marriage; he just thinks the constitutional amendment is the wrong strategy right now. I agree. As long as judges like Roberts and Alito are on the bench — the type that Rudy would appoint as president — a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.
Giuliani understands the party he’s leading
Unlike McCain, who basically told southern, religious conservatives where they could go back in 2000, Rudy understands that he’s campaigning to lead the party of the sunbelt — a party that is more pro-life and pro-gun than his New York constituents. As such, the mayor has given no indication that he will turn his presidency into some sort of pro-abortion, pro-gun control crusade, and every indication that he will defer to his base on those issues. We’ve yet to get definitive statements from Rudy regarding abortion or the Second Amendment in the last few years. While Rudy opponents trot out statements from the 1990s or even the 1980s on those issues, let’s wait and see where Rudy stands in 2006 before passing any judgment. Mayor Giuliani might just surprise pro-life, pro-Second Amendment conservatives with his interpretation of how the president, and not the mayor of the most liberal city in the country, should handle these hot-button cultural issues. At the very least, Giuliani appears prepared to do no harm to conservatives on these issues while promising to advance their causes via the appointment of conservative judges.
Rudy Giuliani is absolutely electable
Despite what John Hawkins says, Rudy is probably the most electable Republican in the country right now. In fact, it would be very, very difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which Rudy would lose to any Democrat, and the mayor would easily trounce the Gore/Kerry sort of Democrat that the Left insists on nominating time after time. If Hillary or Gore is the nominee in 2008, Rudy would win the electoral college in a walk. Here’s why.
First, the impact of an ethnic Catholic leading a presidential ticket must not be understated. The entire industrial north is a region filled with Catholics of eastern and southern European descent. This includes states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, which went for John Kerry by only two and three percentage points in 2004, respectively. Identity politics alone would likely garner Giuliani a couple of extra percentage points across the Rust Belt, just as President Bush likely benefited from his southern evangelical status in states filled with southern evangelicals.
Secondly, Rudy’s fiscally-conservative profile is very similar to the Republican executives elected by the voters of states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. By reminding upper-midwestern voters of their favorite governors, like Tommy Thompson, John Engler, and Tom Ridge, Rudy would likely garner another few points out of the Rust Belt.
So let’s say that Rudy’s ethnic Catholic, working class background, combined with his Rust Belt-style positions on the issues, is able to increase the GOP presidential ticket’s vote share by five percent from 2004 across the Rust Belt, which includes the states bordered by Minnesota and Iowa in the west and New Jersey in the east. The result of this sort of a swing would send the following states into the “red” column: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. That’s another 58 electoral votes for the GOP ticket.
Now, John Hawkins will argue that’s all for naught, as Rudy, who is unable to pound the podium regarding life issues with the same tenacity as President Bush, will likely lose a few points across the South. Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s assume that Rudy’s presidential ticket loses five points from Bush’s 2004 totals in every single southern state simply because he’s a) not an evangelical, b) he can’t call himself pro-life, and c) he’s not for amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. I think assuming a five point loss in every southern state is more than generous to John’s argument in this case, and I suspect Hawkins would agree. Now, let’s see how many southern states Rudy loses with that five point loss across the South…
In fact, the only state that would be teetering on the edge with a five point reduction in the South from Bush’s 2004 numbers would be Florida, a state filled with ex-New-Yorkers who would almost certainly make up for any sort of Bush-Giuliani gap in the region. The fact of the matter is simply that the GOP has succeeded in Republicanizing the South to the extent that most southern states are simply no longer in danger of turning “blue” during a presidential election. Mark Warner might be able to win a few of them against Arlen Specter, but as has been demonstrated above, Rudy’s no Arlen Specter. And Hillary Clinton is no Mark Warner.
Further, Hawkins’ argument that Rudy couldn’t survive without the support of the GOP base is very true. As such, it’s a good thing that Rudy has been able to attain the support of that very base. Rudy generally garners between 85% and 90% of Republicans in a hypothetical matchup against a standard blue-state Democrat like Hillary Clinton. These numbers are just ever-so-slightly shy of Bush’s 90-plus percent GOP support against Kerry in 2004. And while it’s true that Rudy’s support among independents and Democrats will fluctuate, it’s probably also true that Rudy will at least win independents in the general election, which the president couldn’t do two years ago. Given those considerations, it’s hard to see how Rudy can be viewed as anything other than supremely electable.
Of the current GOP 2008 field, Rudy Giuliani is the only candidate who brings to the table the charisma and leadership of a Reagan, the transformative conservative policies of a Gingrich, and the seriousness regarding the GWOT of a Bush. Giuliani is perfectly suited to lead today’s sunbelt center-right GOP due to his belief in low taxes, fiscal responsibility, market-based government reform, traditional marriage, conservative judges, securing the borders, and, last but certainly not least, the destruction of the terrorist threat against America. Only Rudy can package all of this conservatism in a manner that appeals to large numbers of swing voters while still maintaining solid levels of support among the Republican base. Rudy Giuliani would almost certainly sweep the electoral college against any Democrat by holding all of the red states, most of which are now so heavily Republican that only a very conservative Democrat has a chance of winning them, while flipping the electoral-rich Rust Belt that has at least as much of a cultural connection with Giuliani as the South did with President Bush. Tough, conservative, and electable, conservatives could do a lot worse than Rudy Giuliani.