Thursday, April 5, 2007

Rudy on Roe

This isn't Rudy's week. Yesterday, he confirmed that he still supports taxpayer-funded abortions. Then, when this week's Weekly Standard hit mailboxes, he found himself backpedaling on a coded promise to appoint anti-Roe jurists to the federal bench:

"[A] strict constructionist judge could come to either conclusion about Roe v. Wade. He could come to the conclusion that it was incorrectly decided, overturn it, or he could decide well, it's been precedent for so long now, it would be too disruptive to overturn it, so we leave it alone. I would leave that up to a judge."

How's that for straddling the fence?

Update (4/7): Phil Klein of the American Spectator (later echoed by Vincent Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News) observes that as damaging as Rudy's response is, his off-the-cuff style reveals deeper problems:

When [CNN] asked him if he had changed his position on publicly funding abortion since 1989 . . . Giuliani just couldn't bring himself to be seen as pandering, so his instinct was to say that his position was the same. But then he tried to qualify his statement, so what he ended up with was a sloppy answer that, in addition to angering conservatives, created the impression that he's simply "winging it."

There is, however, a fine line between pandering and being unprepared. Given that Giuliani's biggest liability going into the Republican primaries is his stance on abortion, it's startling that he would be caught so off guard. By now, he should be ready to answer any permutation of the abortion question, if not to the satisfaction of all social conservatives, at least well enough to convey a command of the subject matter.