Put principle before political endorsements

first_imgWhen I got a sit-down with Rudy Giuliani at his California campaign headquarters last month, I had to get the usual California questions out of the way: Early primary. Arnold’s endorsement. Immigration. More immigration.As his campaign staffer got antsy and Giuliani was pumped up on an apparent Red Bull streak, I got to squeeze in one last question: “Part of your appeal,” I asked, “has been with wooing moderate voters. What does the endorsement of Pat Robertson say about that?”“It says I can reach out to all voters,” Giuliani responded quickly.“Considering some of the controversial things he’s said, though,” I continued, “about Ariel Sharon, about gays -“ AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ“Remember that in getting his endorsement, I haven’t changed any position. Unlike some other candidates who have had dramatic changes in position in the last year or two, I haven’t changed any position,” Giuliani responded, taking the opportunity for the Mitt hit.“Pat endorsed me for the three reasons that are very clear and are very important. He endorsed me because he believes I’d be the strongest in dealing with the Islamic terrorist threat against America, that I would handle the War on Terror better than anyone else. He endorsed me because he thinks I’d be the best at restraining spending and lower taxes. Frankly, I’m the only one who has a record of doing that.“And, third, he felt that I would be the best in appointing judges,” Giuliani continued as I inwardly furrowed my brow. “Those are the three reasons he endorsed me. He hasn’t had to change any of his positions; I haven’t had to change any of mine. It’s a straight-out, honest assessment that in those three areas, I would be the strongest. … Because I don’t have to change my positions to get wide support. I can be myself.”But his self was standing on a stage beaming with, accepting the endorsement of, a man who’s said some pretty unsavory things in the guise of religious leadership.Giuliani is hardly singled out here: Mitt Romney had previously courted Robertson’s endorsement with appearances at Regent University, one in which he suggested that the single life was selfish. “You cross into the deep waters by marrying and raising good children,” Romney said to Regent graduates this spring. Romney got the endorsement of Catholic-bashing Bob Jones III, who as president of the school in 2000 only dropped its ban on interracial dating under heavy media scrutiny. “We have the same things we want to fight for on issue after issue, so I’m happy to have his support,” Romney said in October.Lifting the ban on interracial dating came with a caveat that parents give written consent. “When you date interracially or marry interracially, it cuts you off from people,” Jones reportedly said in March 2000.Haven’t we moved past the point of endorsements from folks like this mattering anymore?At some point, wouldn’t a candidate of character stand up and say, “Sorry, endorsement not needed”?As a registered Republican – and Catholic who hoped that following the passing of Jerry Falwell there would be a new GOP era with greater religious tolerance – the question weighed heavily on my mind after my chat with Giuliani.You’re bound to be endorsed by people with whom you disagree on some issues. But on the campaign trail, you’re known by the company you keep. Your message is either strengthened or tainted by the donations you might take. And that which may be intended to show arms-open inclusiveness may instead demonstrate a willingness to put political victory over principles.Like why would any politician accept donations from one of Sun Myung Moon’s many front groups or enterprises, considering the things he’s said about America (“Satan’s harvest”), women (“a line of prostitutes”), Jews (who, he said in 2003, brought the Holocaust upon themselves) or gays (“dirty dung-eating dogs”). The self-proclaimed messiah and convicted felon has vowed to “conquer and subjugate the world,” and in 1994 said “any politician who wants to run for president will come to me.”And he was literally crowned by some lawmakers on Capitol Hill in 2004.Religion has fast become the hot potato in Campaign 2008. But we should realize that rejecting endorsements or contributions from those who divide and offend is not discounting the right for Americans to worship as they choose. Instead, it’s about standing up for the principles of fairness, equality and respect that heretofore have made this nation truly great.Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News and blogs at insidesocal.com/friendlyfire. Write to her by e-mail her at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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