Dr. Richard Land is a very smart and widely respected evangelical leader. He’s also my colleague in the Salem Radio network. But his prediction of massive defections from Rudy in the event of a Rudy-Hillary race is simply wrong:
Land told The Hill in an interview this week that as it stands now, the top tier of Republican presidential hopefuls lacks a candidate social conservatives can be fully comfortable voting for.
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.).
“If he wins, he’ll do so without social conservatives,” Land said.
I have been addressing scores of audiences for two years on the subject of 2008, most of them full of social conservatives, many of them self-described evangelicals who would be included in that category under even the most stringent definitions. Not only does Rudy get the nod in audience polling when matched in a race against Hillary, he is often the first choice of large majorities of these highly motivated “base” voters. (He has not failed to win one of these straw polls since the collapse of Allen.)
The Republicans have not had a contested primary since 9/11, and the war changed a lot of people’s priorities when it comes to the presidency. If Rudy is persuasive on the judges he will nominate, he wouldn’t have a problem with the social conservatives in the general election.
In fact, the nomination seems to me to likely turn on which of the big three addresses the war most compellingly and most persuasively over the next year. The debates and media appearances may spend time satisfying the public’s desire to get a “feel” for Senator McCain, Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani, but the nomination will turn on the war and the essential question of who is best suited and prepared to lead it. And every voter serious about the war will be voting for whichever of the three gets the nomination. Today’s vote in the House is just another stark reminder that there is a party committed to defeat and a return to fecklessness, and one which is overwhelmingly serious about the threats we face and the need to meet them, not run from them.
This doesn’t mean that the mayor won’t have problems in the primaries as a result of his positions on these issues. He will.
But not in the general.