Skip to comments.Giuliani ducks probing into faith and family
Posted on 08/19/2007 9:52:10 AM PDT by wagglebee
MANCHESTER, N.H. Rudy Giuliani is testing many traditional political rules in his presidential run, perhaps in no way more than in his effort keep his personal faith and family life out of the race.
On the stump in Iowa recently and in New Hampshire last week, the former New York mayor was asked about Catholicism and his frayed relationship with his children. Both times he said, in effect, that hed keep his private life private.
Ill talk about it appropriately and in a way to preserve as much as I can the privacy of my family and my children, which I think any decent person would, he told reporters at a stop at a diner here on Friday.
Giuliani urged voters to concentrate on the public things that Ive accomplished before turning fire on the media: See how much do newspapers really have to probe into these things, or how much of it is being done really for reasons that have nothing to do with measuring public performance.
The GOP front-runner has been the subject of detailed articles examining his wife, Judith, and his difficult relationship with his two college-age children, Andrew and Caroline.
But its not just family matters that Giuliani is wary of delving into. Asked about his religion, Giuliani noted that he has discussed it but then added that even parts of that are personal.
His calculus is obvious. He has been married three times and cheated on his second wife. His children have publicly distanced themselves from him. If and when he attends Mass, he cant take communion because his second marriage was not annulled. And he contradicts church teaching by backing abortion rights.
Naturally hed rather talk about the taxes he cut as mayor.
But experts say it will be difficult for a candidate, particularly one running in a party whose base is dominated by cultural traditionalists, to ask voters to separate church and family from state. For many if not most conservatives, matters of faith and family are central to a candidates character.
It is untenable, GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said of Giulianis current posture. With a third of the party, you can get away with it. The problem is the other two-thirds are the ones that control the nomination.
People want to get a sense whats in that persons heart, said Fabrizio, who is uncommitted in the race. Doing a good job on crime is all well and good, but if [voters] dont have a sense as to what your moral compass is, thats a problem.
Pointing to a survey he recently did that showed two-thirds of Republicans believe religion essential to living a good and moral life, Fabrizio said, Its very difficult to see how you communicate what your values are without explaining what theyre based upon.
Part of Giulianis problem is the precedent set by the two most recent presidents.
A Southern Baptist who could summon appropriate Scripture for any occasion, Bill Clinton was at ease in the pew or pulpit of any church and during his presidency regularly walked into his own church with Bible in hand. And though he despised having to do it, Clinton also took to national television during his 1992 campaign to admit, with his wife right next to him, that he had caused pain" in their marriage.
President Bush has been equally open about his Christianity. Asked during the 2000 primary to name his favorite political philosopher, Bush responded without hesitation: Christ, because he changed my heart. He also candidly talked about the role of religion in helping him quit drinking a decision that sustained his marriage.
Though hes never been much for discussing his Catholicism he chafed when asked about his Mass-going practices in a 1998 interview before confessing that he attends only occasionally Giuliani hasnt always been so hesitant about his family.
In his first run for mayor in 1989, his then-wife, Donna Hanover, narrated a syrupy campaign commercial that sought to soften the tough-guy prosecutor by showing him playing ball with his young son and giving a bottle to his newborn daughter. And Rudy is such a great dad, Hanover gushed.
Now, though, such matters are off-limits. I believe that things about my personal life should be discussed personally and privately, Giuliani told reporters in Iowa.
Family off limits? scoffed Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at South Carolinas Winthrop University. Wait till his opponents in South Carolina where the ghost of Lee Atwater hangs over primary politics and people still remember fliers being placed on their windshields about John McCains black child start getting serious!
But Giuliani rivals, too, have reasons to downplay personal matters this campaign cycle.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has proudly displayed his wife and five sons on the trail but has shied away from discussing his Mormonism in detail, concerned about potential backlash from evangelical voters who dont consider the church legitimate.
Similarly, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), who has not officially entered the race, have both had previous marriages and neither is outwardly religious.
Mayor Giuliani is not much different than the other leading Republican contenders in their discussion of their faith, said Bill Paxon, a former New York congressman who is advising Giulianis campaign. They are all folks who have faith and have individual positions that they subscribe to, but on the other hand theyre not much interested in making that the bedrock of their presidential campaigns.
Whats more, Paxon argued, Giulianis messy family life and differences with church teachings are nothing that attentive voters dont already know about.
None of this is a surprise to most Republican primary voters, and those are the same voters who are consistently rating Rudy Giuliani as the leading Republican contender [in polls]. And hes getting a lot of that support from many folks who are evangelical Christians.
But Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Christian scholar who studies the intersection of religion and public life, said Giuliani would have to address the issue directly, ideally weaving candor and humor.
Hes got to find a speechwriter that can put together the words and say something like, Im a Catholic. Im not a very good one, but Im trying to be, Cromartie said. I just dont think he can forever avoid it.
Family matters are a bit different, Cromartie argued, especially when it comes to children. For all their frankness about themselves, both Clinton and Bush guarded their kids from public attention, he observed, and few GOP voters seemed to care that Vice President Cheneys daughter was a lesbian despite the best effort of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to highlight that fact during a presidential debate in 2004.
Fabrizio thinks that Giulianis best bet is to keep doing what hes doing now but with a wrinkle.
He ought to take a lesson out of Clinton playbook in 96, offered Fabrizio, who, as pollster for Clinton's opponent, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), recalls that campaign well. He needs to find issues that are values-tinted.
By that, he means topics that will appeal to conservative voters without veering onto subjects that Giuliani is seeking to avoid.
So, for example, whereas Clinton had the v-chip that could block childrens access to some television content, Giuliani could hammer home the need to crack down on cyberporn.
Whatever he does, Giulianis untraditional bid has already made the Republican contest unique. As Paxon put it after amiably defending his candidate, This is going to be an unusual cycle.
Yep a serial philanderer who wants to shield his deeds under the veil of "privacy." Where have we seen this before?
No, more like a slam dunk.
The inmates are now in charge of the asylum.
If he continues to be the front runner there will be no more GOP as we know it.
...but it appears this time they may have actually caught a witch.
Last time I looked, Ronald Reagan was a divorcee, had a son many assume ot be gay, and had a daughter with a drug problem who posed for Playboy, and both hated his guts.
I see it's back to bashing Reagan to make Rooty Toot seem more palatable.
“I see it’s back to bashing Reagan to make Rooty Toot seem more palatable.”
It’s a fair question, which no one seems able to answer in these parts. Why is Reagan, the Classical Liberal, with skeletons in his closet deified, and Rudy, the Classical Liberal with skeletons in his closet villified?
Answer that honestly and I’ll be more inclined to take you seriously.
P.S. I’m still holding out for Newt.
Reagan’s divorce was several decades before his run for office and he was not a serial philanderer like Rooty. Moreover, Reagan was upfront about his strained relationship with two of his children and they were on speaking terms.
Your statement that Reagan had skeletons in his closet is without basis.
And, Reagan is the benchmark for conservatism, Rooty is a textbook liberal.
Full Iowa Results:
Mitt Romney (31.0%)
Mike Huckabee (18.1%)
Sam Brownback (15.3%)
Tom Tancredo (13.7%)
Ron Paul with (9.1%)
Tommy Thompson (7.3%)
Fred Thompson (1.6%)
Rudy Giuliani (1.3%)
Duncan Hunter (1.2%)
John McCain (0.7%)
John Cox (0.3%)
I am for NEWT as well. The comments about Regan were on target, has nothing to do with RG’s potential to lead the party; most of all Rudy is a politician, an egotist and, if elected, will do what is right for America. I have not seen too many positive changes or reversal of Democratic agendas by the current “Mr. Right”, El Presidenté.
“Reagans divorce was several decades before his run for office...”
Oh, I see. WHEN you were divorced is the important factor, huh? I guess if Giuliani waited 30 or so years after his string of divorces, you’d vote him, huh?
“Moreover, Reagan was upfront about his strained relationship with two of his children and they were on speaking terms.”
“Your statement that Reagan had skeletons in his closet is without basis.”
That (some of)his children hated his guts, one posed nude while he was in office, and that he divorced Jane Wyman are all facts that can be disputed?
“And, Reagan is the benchmark for conservatism, Rooty is a textbook liberal.”
Ummm, no. Reagan was a Classical Liberal who held some socially conservative views. Learn what “liberal” and “conservative” really mean, before you continue to use them incorrectly in defense of ridiculous arguments, please. Giuliani is a Classical Liberal who holds some socially-conservative views -— do your homework.
What you really mean to say is that Reagan promised you a Constitutional Amendment banning abortion and poldged to put prayer back in the schools, and THAT is why he’s the “benchmark” for “conservatives”.
Reagan parted on good terms with Jane Wyman. And divorce is the least of the reasons why I wouldn't vote for Rooty.
That (some of)his children hated his guts, one posed nude while he was in office, and that he divorced Jane Wyman are all facts that can be disputed?
None of Reagan's children EVER said they "hated his guts." Moreover, these aren't "skeletons" they were everyday knowledge.
Ummm, no. Reagan was a Classical Liberal who held some socially conservative views. Learn what liberal and conservative really mean, before you continue to use them incorrectly in defense of ridiculous arguments, please.
No, you learn what conservatism is before talking about an 18th Century definition of liberalism.
Giuliani is a Classical Liberal who holds some socially-conservative views
No, Rooty is a hardcore leftist liberal who holds NO socially conservative positions.
What you really mean to say is that Reagan promised you a Constitutional Amendment banning abortion and poldged to put prayer back in the schools, and THAT is why hes the benchmark for conservatives.
Is this another way of saying that conservatives have "had their feet on the neck" of the GOP for too long?
Reagan never cheated on his wives or dressed in drag. Jane Wyman initiated the divorce not him.
DIVORCE is not the issue, it's the very public serial adultery, in Gracie Mansion with the current wife and children still living there. it is mindboggling to me that you need the distinction drawn for you, when the situations are not remotely analogous.
I really thought the Rooty Rooters were done bashing Reagan to make Rooty Toot seem conservative.
“And divorce is the least of the reasons why I wouldn’t vote for Rooty.”
No, but it made your top three. As for REagan and Jane Wyman being the best of friends afterwards, irrelevant.
Either divorce is wrong, in your opinion, or it isn’t. The number of divorces and the terms under which they were consummated make no difference. If you feel divorce is a character issue, then apply the question fairly.
“Moreover, these aren’t “skeletons” they were everyday knowledge.”
I guess so long as your dirty laundry is all aired publicly, no matter how sordid, it makes everything okay? I’ll remmber that the next time someone posts a picture of Giuliani in drag. The double standard continues.
“No, you learn what conservatism is before talking about an 18th Century definition of liberalism.”
The 18th century definition is far superior to yours (confused as it is). Without it (the 18th century conception of Liberalism), there would not have been a United States of America. With yours, there will be a Christian Saudi Arabia.
“No, Rooty is a hardcore leftist liberal who holds NO socially conservative positions.”
Yep. just what I thought. All about God, Guns and Gays. See my Christian Saudi Arabia crack above.
“Is this another way of saying that conservatives have “had their feet on the neck” of the GOP for too long?”
I would have thought that was easily discernible to even the dimmest bulb, but it is nice of you to admit it.
Support for homosexual marriages and rights, abortion, and gun control are hardly views of Classical liberalism. They're not even libertarian. These are socialist positions.
You've been a poster here since December of 2000 and apparently missed the gauntlet thrown down by JimRob back in April. Giuliani is an authoritarian socialist. Even I supported this POS before I had the sense to wake up. Perhaps you should too.
because his supporters don’t see Rudy’s adultery as a problem, they can’t distinguish it from RR’s unsolicited divorce, and they just glom it all together as one huge MORAL EQUIVALENCE. anyone can end up with kids that don’t speak to them, for any variety of reasons. i certainly don’t hold that against rudy, other than it may very well be explained, in this instance, by the humiliating way he went about hauling his mistress into Gracie mansion while attempting to evict them and their mother.
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