Tony Blankley

Recently I was talking with a GOP telephone contribution solicitor. He spends hours every day talking with registered Republicans trying to raise money for the GOP. He tells me that in many of these brief conversations, he is hearing very conservative, small-donor Republicans expressing support for Rudy because of his "strength" in the face of the terrorist threat.

I, for one, am not surprised that a voter would consider fighting terrorism to be the prime qualification for president. After Sept. 11, I gave up many of my libertarian policy values, as they seemed inconsistent with American national security.

But if Giuliani is benefiting in the GOP primary from the new ascendance of terrorism as a dominating or even single issue (ironic, in that abortion was and surely still is, for many voters, the single voting issue), will the Democratic nominee benefit from other issues trumping values for some values voters in the general election?

For example, will the global warming/environment/alternative energy issue or the cost and availability of health care attract otherwise values voters to the Democratic column next November?

As I travel the country talking with people, I think it is obvious there is a heightened sense of danger in many people's minds. For some, it is global terrorism, and for others, it is global warming. There is a deep worry about the future of American prosperity; for many, the affordability of health care hangs hard on their thoughts.

So, yes, if I had to bet, I would bet that next November, at least a million or two traditional Republican values voters will cast their ballots for the candidate who they think will best handle some secular issue that alarms them.

But it is not a foregone conclusion that the Democratic candidate will be the beneficiary of such judgments. For example, in a recent Zogby poll, energy independence was cited as the leading domestic concern -- even above health care. Energy independence voters may well favor the Republican candidate who supports more oil drilling over the Democrat who would ban further drilling.

And for those who worry about continued prosperity, the Democratic candidate, who almost inevitably will be calling for higher taxes and more social spending, may well (and correctly) appear to be a threat to future prosperity.

Even on health care issues, Gary Andre, writing in The Washington Times a few weeks ago, identified through careful polling that even Hillary has to use Republican policy rhetoric (such as the use of the word "choice") to describe (falsely) her health proposals.

So although a substantial number of GOP values voters may be looking for other issues next November, they may yet be Republican issues -- and Republican voters. But only if the GOP candidates understand and address the changing judgments of these key voters.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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