Giuliani: The Antichrist?

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Will America's mayor, Rudy, be the man to push the GOP back to the center and dethrone the religious right's reign?

It sure looks so at the moment. Mind you, I'm always one to serve up the caveat that polls earlier than one month ahead of an election are so much political detritus (to wit, meaningless). But the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll and others showing similar results have been such stunners, it bears more than mere notice. The poll has Giuliani beating putative front-runner Sen. John McCain of Arizona by more than 2 to 1 (44 to 21 percent) among Republican voters.

Even more befuddling is the fact that "Giuliani's surge came from increased support among white evangelical Protestants, the latest poll showed. Political experts had predicted that Giuliani's support for legalized abortion and gay rights would hamper him with religious voters, but not so far." Similarly, Princeton Survey Associates announced over the weekend, "Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has widened his lead over his rivals in his bid for Republican presidential nomination, shows a new poll Saturday. Giuliani is favored by 59 percent over Sen. John McCain, 70 percent over Mitt Romney."

Either Evangelicals are as woefully uninformed as their leaders make them out to be or the Bush administration failures, Tom DeLay disgraces, and Jack Abramoff embarrassments have alerted them to their misplaced faith in politicians who claim the mantle of religiosity. Free Congress Research and Education Foundation's Paul Weyrich echoed the standard "our people aren't aware where Giuliani stands on abortion and gay rights" theme this weekend when he told a McClatchy Newspapers writer, "Once the discussion goes around the country about what he stands for--he's big on the promotion of gay marriage--he'll have a hard time getting beyond where he is now." (In fact, Giuliani opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions.)