Antiabortion Leaders' Support For GOP Presidential Candidates

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With former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulianias the first Republican presidential candidate in a generation tosupport abortion rights, abortion opponents are trying to "adjust to astrikingly different political landscape," the New York Timesreports. For 30 years, antiabortion advocates have worked with theRepublican Party to win a "series of victories in legislatures andcourts and stands tantalizingly close to winning even more," accordingto the Times. However, some experts have said that a"convergence of forces," including the early primaries in moderatestates such as California, might have "diminished the influence of theantiabortion movement on the Republican nominating process," the Times reports.

Antiabortion leaders are dividing their support among the Republican presidential candidates, including Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romneyand former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), who has not yet formallyannounced his candidacy. At the Republican straw poll in Iowa scheduledfor next month, abortion opponents plan to circulate a petition callingon the Republican party to "reassert its values, honor its platform andchoose an antiabortion nominee," the Times reports. According to the Times,most of the Republican candidates are "scrambling to demonstrate boththeir antiabortion credentials and their ability to win."

Antiabortionadvocates have "so much at stake" in the 2008 election that some ofGiuliani's supporters have made a "strikingly counterintuitive case:that abortion opponents should cast their lot with Mr. Giuliani,despite his long support for legalized abortion," according to the Times.Giuliani's supporters say that abortion-rights opponents should backhim because he could beat the Democratic nominee and he is "sensitiveto the need to reduce abortions, increase adoptions and empower thestates to regulate abortion." According to the Times, Giuliani also has pledgedto appoint "strict constructionists" to the U.S. Supreme Court, whichis "widely considered political code for judges with a conservativeagenda."

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"Our goal is to get a pro-lifepresident, so we can be confident of his position on legislation andconfident of his judges," Kim Lehman, president of the Iowa Right to Life Committee, said, adding that the majority of Iowa voters oppose abortion. James Bopp, an attorney who represents Wisconsin Right to Lifeand who recently has signed on as an adviser to the Romney campaign,said, "For the Republican Party to nominate a pro-choice candidatewould be very destructive of the party." He added that a Republicannominee who supported abortion rights "would essentially be at war withthe base, and that would manifest itself in a lot of different ways."

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said a recent poll analysissuggests that some antiabortion voters might be willing to considernominating an abortion-rights supporter. Jennifer Stockman, co-chair ofthe Republican Majority for Choice,said she thinks it is "heartening" that a "moderate is doing so welland that so many conservatives believe in [Giuliani] as well" (Toner, New York Times, 7/30).

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