The televangelist Pat Robertson endorsed Rudolph W. Giuliani today at the National Press Club in Washington, providing the former New York City Mayor with a big symbolic boost as he tries to allay the concerns of Christian conservatives about his candidacy.
The endorsement by Mr. Robertson could have some impact because of Mr. Robertson’s clout through the Christian Broadcasting Network, where Mr. Giuliani can deliver a central argument of his candidacy: that the threat of terrorism is too important and should outweigh voters’ concerns about his stand on abortion.
“It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans,” Pat Robertson said in a statement issued by the Giuliani campaign. “Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced its violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations, and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship which is so urgently needed in Washington today.”
“I am very encouraged by Pat’s support,” Rudy Giuliani said. “His confidence in me means a lot. His experience and advice will be a great asset to me and my campaign.”
From The Times’s Michael Luo, who is on the campaign trail in Iowa, here’s a bit more on the Robertson announcement:
What does it all mean? Make no mistake–this is a coup for Mr. Giuliani’s campaign. Mr. Giuliani spoke at Regent University, the evangelical school Mr. Robertson founded, several months ago and was warmly received. The endorsement helps them quiet talk the talk that had bubbled up among Christian conservative leaders about supporting a third-party candidate if Mr. Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights is the nominee, and bolstering his advisers’ contention that he can compete among Christian conservative voters who are dominant in early voting states like South Carolina and Iowa.
It is unclear how much sway someone like Mr. Robertson, who has had a tendency in recent years to make news with wild statements, continues to have among regular evangelicals. But his television show, the 700 Club, has a large following and he remains a recognizable name in this community, even though it has evolved, with many of the new leaders in the movement encouraging a broadening of its agenda beyond social issues like abortion and gay marriage.
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain’s campaign counters with its own significant announcement: he gets the support of his Senate colleague and social conservative stalwart, Sam Brownback.
As for the Brownback score for Mr. McCain, this was surprising and not-so-surprising, given they are colleagues in the Senate but have been on opposing sides on core issues for Mr. Brownback like embryonic stem cell research. It helps Mr. McCain’s continuing efforts to win over Christian conservatives, who despite his consistent voting record against abortion still regard him in large numbers as something of an ideological maverick.
Bottom line: for anyone looking for certainty about where social conservatives will go in this race, it is not coming anytime soon.
Here are some excerpts from Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudolph W. Giuliani:
To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists. Our second goal should be the control of massive government waste and crushing federal deficits. Uppermost in the minds of social conservatives is the selection of future Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will sit in both the federal circuit courts and the district courts.
Our world faces deadly peril: nuclear-armed North Korea and the foreboding of nuclear arms in Iran; deadly violence from Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel; the possible overthrow of Pakistan’s government, and drawn out wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all of the crises which confront our nation and the world, we need a leader with a bold vision who is not afraid to tackle the challenges ahead.
For months I have contemplated our future and the outstanding group of men who are offering themselves to the Republican party to be its standard bearer in the 2008 presidential election. Today it is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead, and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans.
Rudy Giuliani stood tall as his city was rocked by the worst terrorist act in America’s history. Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced its violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship, which is so urgently needed in Washington today.
He proved time and again that he is a true fiscal conservative. Rudy served as a high official in the justice department of Ronald Reagan, and later as a United States attorney, won acclaim as a valiant crime fighter. Justice triumphed as he took down mafia dons, drug traffickers and corrupt politicians. He understands the need for a conservative judiciary and with the help of the distinguished Ted Olson, who is here today, and other members of his team, has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.
Today I wish Rudy Giouliani success in the caucuses and the primaries which will take place in a few months, and beyond that it is my hope and prayer that he will lead the Republican Party to victory in November of 2008.