Rudy’s Terror Gamble

Pat Robertson’s decision to endorse Rudy Giuliani has some conservatives scratching their heads . Why back a candidate whose record on abortion—a supposed litmus test for evangelical support—so clearly repudiates everything you stand for?

The reason, according to Robertson: terrorism. America’s No. 1 goal right now, he said at a press conference today, should be the “defense of our people from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists.” Beyond that, he said, the No. 2 goal should be stemming government waste and corruption. Appointing conservative judges—and thus reducing the number of abortions—is all the way down at number three. That one of America’s foremost social conservatives would rank the country’s priorities in that order is very, very good news for Rudy.

Robertson is at least the second prominent social conservative to endorse Giuliani because of his record on security. Texas Gov. Richard Perry, who threw himself behind Giuliani last month, said that picking a president is like buying a truck: He wouldn’t reject a model just because there’s one option he doesn’t like. Again, security trumps abortion. (What’s the point of keeping the child if it’s just gonna get blown up?)

Robertson’s endorsement might also diffuse talk of a James Dobson-backed third-party candidate should Giuliani win the nomination. Without the support of Robertson or Brownback or Weyrich (or Perry or Bob Jones III ), it’s hard to imagine another religious-right candidate gaining much momentum.

When he decided to run for president, Giuliani took a gamble that Republican voters care more about security than they do about his record on social issues. It looks like that gamble has paid off.