Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rudy’s Big Score

Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani is huge. It tells social conservatives that it’s okay to vote for Rudy.

In his endorsement, Robertson cited out-of-control federal spending; appointing conservative judges; reducing crime; and, perhaps most importantly, “the overriding issue [of] defending against bloodlust of Islamic terrorists.” Pat called abortion “only one issue” of importance.

It also shows that evangelicals are divided on the race. There’s no monolithic movement in favor of any major candidate. This is really important. It means no third-party candidacy from the Christian right. Bill and Hillary benefited enormously back in 1992 when Ross Perot swiped 19 percent of the total vote in the race with Papa Bush. Remember, the majority of Perot supporters were Republican. In fact, Bill Clinton received less than 50 percent of the vote in both ’92 and ’96. Perot ran as a third-party candidate in ’96 as well, undoubtedly draining votes from Sen. Bob Dole.

The latest WSJ/NBC poll shows Rudy and Hillary in a dead heat. Rudy is running strong in New Hampshire and gaining ground on Mitt Romney. This is a shift in Rudy’s strategy. It’s a wise move. The New Hampshire move and Robertson’s endorsement are giving America’s mayor some serious momentum. That said, Romney is still up 15 points in New Hampshire according to Scott Rasmussen’s latest poll. And the RCP average shows Romney with a 9.5 percentage point lead.

Let me be very clear: I am not picking sides here. Absolutely not. I’m merely reporting and analyzing. I do think Romney is running a strong campaign. And he’s getting stronger as a candidate. I also think John McCain is finding his sea legs on the campaign trail. Regrettably, Fred Thompson seems to be falling behind.

But the big news is Pat Robertson. No doubt about it. And that’s a big score for Rudy.

Incidentally, when I interviewed Rudy last week on CNBC, he came out strong for cutting the corporate income tax — both as a pro-growth job creator and a way to boost the sagging fortunes of the dollar. He’s right on both counts.