Yup. Rudy Giuliani may have just cost himself the nomination.

“Our party is going to grow, and we are going to win in 2008 if we are a party characterized by what we’re for, not if we’re a party that’s known for what we’re against,” the former New York mayor said at a midday campaign stop.

Republicans can win, he said, if they nominate a candidate committed to the fight against terrorism and high taxes, rather than a pure social conservative.

“Our party has to get beyond issues like that,” Giuliani said, a reference to abortion rights, which he supports.

Early reax to the comment: decidedly negative.

I’m a social con. I was giving Giuliani a close look in spite of quite a few things, because he projects strength on the war. But telling social conservatives to “get over it” is arrogant. It also betrays what he really thinks about the pro-life movement. We don’t define ourselves by “what we’re against,” but by what we’re for: the right to life. It’s the most basic right.

JPod questions whether the reporter got the quote accurate, and it’s always wise to approach any MSM report on any Republican saying anything, with skepticism. But still.

Coupled with Giuliani’s recent flap over federal funding of abortion, this builds a high wall between him and the socially conservative base of the party. I would chalk it up to being a rookie mistake, but Giuliani’s no rookie. He’s just a social liberal who happens to be strong on the war, running for the nomination of a socially conservative party. If there’s a political marriage in the offing, it will be one that features a shotgun.

Update: We have context.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question about the former platform in the Republican Party allowed abortion in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother. I believe in that and I believe that because of the abortion issue in the Republican Party it is dividing this party so badly that we may not be able to elect a Republican president and I hope-I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on that.”

MAYOR GIULIANI: “What my thoughts are on the big question? I can tell you my thoughts on both.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: “The big question.”

GIULIANI: “On the big question my thoughts are we shouldn’t allow it to do that. Electing a Republican in 2008 is so important to the war on terror, the ability to keep up an economy that’s an economy or growth, or from the point of view of what we believe as Republicans to really set us in the wrong direction. Democrats are entitled to think something different but I think that there will be a major difference in the direction of this country whether we have a Republican or Democrat in 2008 and 2009. On abortion I think we should respect each other. I think that’s what we should do and we should respect the fact that this is a very difficult moral question and a very difficult question and that very good people of equally good conscience could come to different opinions on it. My view of it is I hate abortion. I think abortion is wrong. To someone who I cared about or cared to talk to me about it and wanted my advice, the advice I would give them is not to do it and to have adoption as an option to it. When I was the Mayor adoptions went way up, abortions went down but ultimately I respect that that’s somebody else’s decision and that people of conscience can make that decision either way and you can’t put them in jail for it. (applause) And then I think our party, our party has to get beyond issues like that where we can have people who are very good people who have different views about this, they can all be Republican because our party is going to grow and we’re going to win in 2008 if we’re a party that is characterized for what we are for and not if we’re a party that’s known for what we are against. …” (Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Campaign Event, Des Moines IA, 4/14/07)

That is much better. Soundbites can distort remarks out of all proportion, and that seems to have been the case here. I do dislike the part about being a party that’s known for what it’s against rather than for, though. Pro-lifers are for the right to life, period. The media has long cast us as being “anti-abortion” because that’s a negative spin on our point of view. Fellow Republicans shouldn’t use the MSM’s shorthand when describing or addressing each other.