After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.
At the same time, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign — seeking to accomplish the unusual task of persuading Republicans to nominate an abortion rights supporter — is eyeing a path to the nomination that would try to de-emphasize the early states in which abortion opponents wield a great deal of influence. Instead they would focus on the so-called mega-primary of Feb. 5, in which voters in states like California, New York and New Jersey are likely to be more receptive to Mr. Giuliani’s social views than voters in Iowa and South Carolina.
This is the honest thing to do. He clearly does support abortion rights, given his past support for it (even at one time supporting partial birth abortion!). I think it shows a failure of character that he had to be forced into this position by political circumstance. It does beg the question of what other issues he’s taking a politically expedient view on, rather than speaking from conviction.
That said, his decision to get this out of the way comes early enough that most people aren’t paying enough attention to notice so the flip-flop will like cause little damage to him. The impact of being pro-abortion will remain to be seen and skipping the more conservative early primaries makes strategic sense. It will be interesting to see if his popularity can overcome his views on abortion. I’m not optimistic of his chances of doing so. That’s a pretty significant portion of the GOP primary electorate he’s writing off with this approach, and many pro-abortion GOP primary voters will likely have concerns about some of his positions or past behavior in and out of office. I still expect someone else to be the eventual nominee, despite his current front-runner status.