Focus on the Family founder James Dobson–widely viewed as an influential kingmaker for the Religious Right–says he would not vote for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani under any circumstances.
Given a “Hobson’s choice“–an apparently free choice that is no choice at all–between Giuliani and Democrats Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Dobson said in a column on WorldNetDaily.com, he “will either cast my ballot for an also-ran–or if worse comes to worst–not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.”
Dobson objected to Giuliani’s admission last Friday in a speech at Houston Baptist University that he supports abortion on demand.
Giuliani, a New York Catholic who once considered becoming a priest, said he believes abortion is morally wrong, but people of good faith can disagree. Because women are most affected by abortion, he said, he would grant them the right to choose.
HBU President Robert Sloan compared it to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that allay Protestant fears that because he was a Catholic, the pope would tell him as president how to act.
“I think he was wise and courageous to do it,” Sloan, former president of Baylor University, said in the New York Daily News.
For Dobson, however, Giuliani’s Houston speech meant “the jig is up,” an admission he is “an unapologetic supporter of abortion on demand,” a revelation that Dobson said comes “as no great shock” to those familiar with the pro-life movement.
“How could Giuliani say with a straight face that he ‘hates abortion,’ while also seeking public funding for it?” Dobson queried. “How can he hate abortion and contribute to Planned Parenthood in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999? And how was he able for many years to defend the horrible procedure by which the brains are sucked from the heads of a viable, late-term, un-anesthetized babies? Those beliefs are philosophically and morally incompatible. What kind of man would even try to reconcile them? ”
Dobson also questioned Giuliani’s support for domestic partnerships for gay couples, and for his three marriages. “Unlike some other Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani appears not to have remorse for cheating on his wife,” Dobson said.
Though he hasn’t yet announced officially he is running for president, thrice-married Newt Gingrich said on Dobson’s radio program he had “gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness” for sins of his past.
While Dobson claims he doesn’t endorse candidates, Giuliani isn’t his first negative endorsement in the current field of contenders for the GOP nomination.
U.S. News & World Report said in March that Dobson “appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson, saying he doesn’t believe he is a Christian, while praising the former Speaker of the House. Dobson claimed the article mischaracterized his remarks.
In January Dobson said he would under no circumstances vote for Sen. John McCain. He doesn’t like chances of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, because he doesn’t believe large numbers of conservative evangelicals will vote for a Mormon.
But Dobson isn’t alone in distancing himself from Giuliani’s Houston speech. While not mentioning Giuliani by name, GOP candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he would have to think long and hard before he would consider joining a ticket with a candidate who supports abortion rights.
“This is an issue to me that is very critical,” said Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor and past president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. “It’s one of the reasons that I got into politics because I believe the manner in which we treat innocent life and the matter in which we respect human life, at whatever stage … is an incredibly powerful statement about who we are as a people.”
Huckabee said the sanctity of human life “is not just some peripheral political position,” but “comes to the very heart of who we are as a culture.”
In ruling out a vote for Giuliani, Dobson said he was “speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.