Giuliani Will Only Get In The 2012 Race If The GOP Field Looks “Really Desperate”

September 6, 2011 10:31 a.m.

Ex-America’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani doesn’t really have a home in the modern Republican presidential nomination system, he told a crowd in Washington today. And, he said, neither does anyone else not willing to hew to the farthest edge of social conservatism.

Giuliani stepped up to the podium at the National Press Club Tuesday to discuss the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11. But because he has actively kept talk of another run for President going for months now, he got some questions about it when his 9/11-focused lecture was over.

Once again, Giuliani said he was still considering a bid, but said that he’s put off a decision until after the 10th anniversary of the attacks that propelled him from famous New York City mayor to international icon. However, Giuliani told the crowd, “I would have a hard time getting nominated,” and said that he’d jump in only if the GOP field was looking “really desperate.”Asked why it would be so hard for him to become the nominee, Giuliani sketched a picture of a nominating process designed to keep Republicans like him — pro-choice, pro-gay rights (sort of) and (at one time) pro-gun control — from ever getting to the White House, despite the fact their views may be more in line with the general electorate than their more socially conservative opponents.

“I’m simply not that conservative on social issues,” he said. “And I’m not willing to change just to become President.”

The opening round of primaries — the all-important path through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — is just stacked against the candidate who can’t associate himself with the GOP’s social right.

This is not a new thought, to be sure. The reason Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney aren’t spending much time in Iowa but are spending a ton of time in New Hampshire is partially because a lot of people think socially conservative Iowa caucus-goers don’t relish the idea of a President who’s a Mormon (or, for that matter, a former Utah governor who’s pro-civil unions and/or a former Massachusetts governor who used to be pro-choice.)

But Giuliani seems to really want to be President — he came prepared Tuesday with a long list of “conservative” things he did while mayor and told the crowd, “I think if I were to run, I would have a chance at winning the presidency.” However, he seemed to be resigned to the idea that the Republican nomination process will keep him and others like him out.

“National polls don’t mean anything. Winning Iowa means something. Winning New Hampshire means something. Winning South Carolina means something,” he said. “And those primaries, at least two out of three, are tilted very much in favor of conservative Republicans who are very strongly conservative on social issues.”

This is ironic, Giuliani suggested, because moderate social views may be more popular in the GOP than most people might realize from watching the pre-Iowa battles of the summer.

“The Republican party is a big party like the Democratic party, it has all kinds of factions in it,” he explained. “Far-right, right, conservative, moderate.”

Giuliani was asked if the primary process, and the social conservative-friendly nominee it will more than likely produce, will make life easier on President Obama. Not at the moment, he said. But he suggested it really could.

“Right now if the election took place, I believe the President would lose to any one of of the top two or three Republicans who are running right now,” he said. Obama is toast at the moment, he explained, because “the American people are fed up” with the economy and “they’ll take a chance on something else.”

“If [Obama] doesn’t show improvement in the economy, then I think all the rest of the [social] stuff isn’t going to matter that much,” Giuliani said.

But then again, he noted, “the election will be next year, not now.”

Get the day’s best political analysis, news and reporting from the TPM team delivered to your inbox every day with DayBreaker. Sign up here, it takes just a few seconds.

Masthead Masthead
Editor & Publisher:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Senior Newswriters:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Executive Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: