Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who sought the Republican presidential nomination on a socially conservative platform, is considering supporting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's candidacy. He met with the former mayor on Thursday to discuss his position on abortion.
“I’m going to meet with him and I’m going to talk to him and hear what he is specifically saying now because he’s changed on a number of the abortion issues,” Brownback said in an interview with The Hill. “He’s changed on partial-birth [abortion] and he … has said he would appoint strict constructionists” to the Supreme Court.
Giuliani’s Pro-Abortion Credentials
Many social conservatives consider Giuliani to be a very weak candidate. They cite his pro-abortion positions and connections, which include support for federal funding of abortions, making abortion available at any stage of pregnancy, support for partial-birth abortion and receiving several donations from Planned Parenthood. Giuliani’s approval of homosexuality is another reason that he is seen as an unfit candidate for the Republican nomination by many.
Elizabeth Shipp of NARAL Pro-Choice America told The Huffington Post in an Oct. 10 story that “it ‘would help’ the abortion rights movement if Giuliani proves it's possible a pro-choice candidate can win the Republican nomination and the presidency.”
Federal tax returns made public by the former New York mayor also show that he and his then-wife, Donna Hanover, made personal donations to national, state and city chapters of Planned Parenthood totaling $900 in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999.
Some political strategists consider a Brownback endorsement as a “back door” way for Giuliani to gain supporters from the conservative Brownback base. Before dropping out of the race, Brownback had over 45,000 registered supporters in the key election state of Iowa.
Sources familiar with Brownback’s campaigning in Iowa have told CNA that he has strong support among conservative Catholics as well, much of it organized through the group "Catholics for Brownback." The group claims hundreds of Iowan Catholics at the grassroots level who were willing to campaign for the former candidate because of his supposedly strong pro-life stance.
According to Jay Heine, Brownback's political director in Iowa, an endorsement could happen because Brownback and many of his supporters believe Giuliani has the best chance of defeating Senator Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee.
The possibility that Brownback is likely to endorse Giuliani has left “Iowa moms and Catholics outraged," according to a Catholics for Brownback source who contacted CNA.
Speaking of the potential Brownback endorsement, Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University said, “It would be absolutely huge. It would mean that Giuliani is getting support from a part of the Republican Party that has been hostile to him."
“Brownback is very well-respected,” he added. “It would give a lot of social conservatives and evangelicals cover if they want to support Giuliani.”
Others were not enthusiastic about the possible endorsement. Kim Lehman, president of Iowa Right to Life Committee and a member of the Iowans for Brownback Leadership Committee, said she would be stunned if Brownback supported Giuliani.
“I find it simply hard to believe because Giuliani has expressed his position to even pay for abortion,” she said.
However, after meeting with Giuliani, Brownback seemed to have changed his tune to the dismay of his Catholic supporters. “While he didn't endorse the ex-mayor, he praised him as an "excellent leader" and said he was "much more comfortable" with Giuliani's views on abortion and gay rights issues after the meeting,” according to the Washington Post.
Asked by reporters in a brief press conference after the meeting with Giuliani if he could support a "pro-choice" nominee, Brownback said "I don't know that he described himself...as a pro-choice candidate" and then said he wanted to let Giuliani explains his own view.
Brownback has not yet endorsed Giuliani, but a source from the senator's campaign team has said that the senator will decide which candidate to endorse within the next month.