This video got a lot of play at conservative blogs a few months back, but it’s worth examining in this context. Giuliani has rather remarkably stuck with his views and has retained much support even from those far rightward of his own positions. It’s both an art and a science to bob and weave through the tangled webs of ideology and rhetoric without getting caught in something politically damaging.
Giuliani’s campaign has been hard at work for months, working to reassure prospective donors and supporters that Giuliani’s policy stances, if not always his own opinion, are in line with bedrock conservative principles — a great example of the pressures centrist candidates face during the primary cycle, especially one this long and brutal. In March, the Sacramento Bee published this story (registration required) about one Giuliani ally’s quest to win over California’s often-neglected but still formidable conservative establishment that launched Ronald Reagan’s career over forty years ago. His name is Bill Simon, formerly a so-so gubernatorial candidate and now Giuliani’s policy director. He is now “a crucial player in persuading social conservatives across the nation to embrace a divorced mayor who favors legal abortion, gay rights and gun control.”
“Simon might have been a lackluster candidate when he failed to dislodge former Gov. Gray Davis, but he has endeared himself to fellow anti-abortion and traditional-values Republicans. And as Giuliani surges in the polls, Simon is a key voice in selling Giuliani’s national security credentials while disarming conservative doubts about him.
The recent Sacramento convention was an apt illustration of Simon’s influence and role. First he told a hotel ballroom crowded with conservative GOP delegates that his former boss was a fellow ‘Reagan Republican,’ who cut taxes, cleaned up New York and put ‘countless career criminals behind bars.’
State assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, said Simon had assured them Giuliani was a ‘strict constructionist’ in the mold of new Supreme Court appointees, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Chief Justice John Roberts.
He said Simon explained that Giuliani opposes tax-funded abortions and a late-term procedure sometimes known as partial birth abortion, and that — though Giuliani supports domestic partnerships — he believes that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman
[Simon] assured the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez that Giuliani is “a fiscal conservative’ and, ‘on social issues, he is nowhere near as liberal as the reputation.’ He told Fox News’ John Gibson, ‘I’ve known Mayor Giuliani for over 22 years… and I think as conservatives come to know him and know his record, they are going to conclude he’s pretty conservative.'”
Giuliani’s already got damage control cranking at full speed, particularly with regard to abortion and same-sex marriage — we’ll see if he can out-manuever some of his past statements as seen in the CPAC video — a formidable challenge indeed in facing a Republican base eager for the next charismatic conservative ala Ronald Reagan.