Debra J. Saunders

Meanwhile, Giuliani's failure to play up his support for abortion rights kept pro-choice Republicans from rallying behind him. Cost noted that exit polls showed that 52 percent of New Hampshire voters believe that abortions should be legal -- yet Giuliani was the pick of only 11 percent of those voters. If Giuliani had tried to reach out to the Granite State's pro-choice voters, he could have been a contender.

While there are fewer pro-choice Republicans in Michigan (about 35 percent) and South Carolina (about 25 percent), Cost observed, "In a multi-candidate field, this might have been a missed opportunity for Rudy."

Why didn't Giuliani play up his support for abortion rights? I asked former Gov. Pete Wilson, who won California statewide office as a pro-choice Republican and has endorsed Giuliani.

"It's certainly no secret, where he stands on the issue," Wilson answered. "The economy is a greater issue. The war on terrorism is a greater issue."

Yeah, but: Other candidates are strong on the economy and terrorism, too. Giuliani's appeal was that many Americans saw him as the man you wanted with you if your back is to the wall. Then, as the election wore on, voters saw a candidate who tried to distance himself from his moderate stands on social issues. The firebrand was doused.

Debra J. Saunders

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