Rudy Giuliani made no effort to deny his disagreements with social conservatives at a premier event for religious voters.
Instead, he said his willingness to acknowledge those differences—primarily on abortion and same-sex marriage--was evidence of his honesty and should give evangelicals reason to trust him.
“I’m not going to pretend to you that I can be all things to all people,” Giuliani told a 2,000 strong crowd at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Washington Briefing Saturday morning. “I’m just not like that. I can’t do that.”
Then, in what was interpreted by event-goers as a dig at his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Giuliani asked “Isn’t it better that I tell you what I really believe, instead of pretending to change all my positions to fit the prevailing winds?”
Two women sitting near center stage cried out “Yes! Yes!” as the crowd broke into scattered applause.
“Trust is better than 100 percent agreement,” Giuliani told them.
Earlier this month, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told reporters in a conference call that both Giuliani and leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton are “indistinguishable” on social issues.
Subsequently, Giuliani largely skirted abortion and marriage issues in the nearly 40-minute long speech, preferring to spend his time discussing his success in fighting crime in New York City, driving pornography shops from Times Square and school vouchers.
Giuliani did, however, promise to veto “any reduction in the impact of the Hyde amendment” which prohibits taxpayer funding abortion, and support parental notification laws and the ban on partial-birth abortion. Giuliani also vaguely pledged to “support any reasonable suggestion that promises to reduce the number of abortions.”
Neat the end of his remarks the thrice-married Giuliani discussed his private prayers for forgiveness during turbulent times in his personal life. He said, “I’m not a perfect person. I’ve made mistakes in my life” but warned “if we expect perfection from our political leaders, we’re just asking to be disappointed.”
“That’s right!” an audience member shouted out.
While Giuliani avoided talking about his family life, Romney sharpened differences between his and Giuliani’s personal lives in his Friday night Values Voter speech.
Romney, who consistently trails Giuliani in national polls, made family strength the centerpiece of his address,, taking care to note he is a father of five and grandfather of ten.
In addition to being twice-divorced, Giuliani is currently estranged from his two children.
“The First Family in some respects represents America to the world,” Romney said. “Our family is far from perfect, but we’ll always try to make you proud.”
Romney was the declared winner of a straw poll conducted at the event, narrowly edging long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee by 30 votes. Of the nine candidates on the ballot, Giuliani came in eighth. A full list of the votes is available HERE.
Ron Paul came in third.
The poll, which was held online, began in August and cost ballot-casters $1 per vote. 5,775 votes were cast, 952 of which were cast at the event.