Rudy Giuliani is not my first pick for Republican presidential nominee. He’s got some troubling stands on some issues that are important to me. But whatever those disconnects, he’d be far better than anything the Democrats have to offer.

Except that’s not what a number of conservative Christians are saying.

Some of the nation’s most politically influential conservative Christians, alarmed by the prospect of a Republican presidential nominee who supports abortion rights, are considering backing a third-party candidate.

More than 40 Christian conservatives attended a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City to discuss the possibility, and planned more gatherings on how they should move forward, according to Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail expert and longtime conservative activist.

Rudy Giuliani, who supports abortion rights and gay rights, leads in national polls of the Republican presidential candidates. Campaigning in New Jersey on Monday, Giuliani brushed aside talk of an upstart effort by religious conservatives.

“I’m working on one party right now _ the Republican Party,” Giuliani said. “I believe we are reaching out very, very well to Republicans. The emphasis is on fiscal conservatism, which brings Republicans together.”

Other participants in the meeting included James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., and, according to Viguerie, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy group in Washington.

The problem with this approach is that if they act on this threat, they ensure the election of someone even further from their beliefs than Rudy. And they have to know this, which means they’d rather have someone in Planned Parenthood’s back pocket, never mind all the other nanny-state, anti-growth policies that would get introduced and implemented, than someone with whom they could at least agree on most of the time. If you have a Republican in the White House, you at least have someone who’ll give conservative Christians a fair hearing rather than just lip service.

Betsy Newmark has a better suggestion.

There is a candidate in the race right now who fits all the needs of these cultural conservatives – Mike Huckabee. They could be mobilizing behind him. If Huckabee started moving in the polls and surpassing expectations in the early states, these conservatives might be able to convince Giuliani (if he were to win the nomination) to put Huckabee on the ticket to alleviate some of this cultural conservative angst.

How much influence a VP would have is a matter of debate, as Betsy notes, but rather than bailing out, engage.

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Filed under: AbortionChristianityConservativeGovernmentPoliticsReligionRepublicans

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