The moment of truth has come and gone. Geraghty has reaction round-up. It sounds like he did as well as could be hoped: some solid applause lines, polite ovations at the beginning and end, but nothing transformative (although Reason’s Dave Weigel did detect the crowd warming to him near the end after an excruciating beginning). The Swamp has extensive quotations but you’re better off with Politico’s report, which pares it down to the best soundbites. Two money lines, the first of which amounts to asking vis-a-vis the third-party rumors, What Would Jesus Do?
Instead of pandering to the group, Giuliani held his ground.
“We’ve got to find a way to be more inclusive,” Giuliani said. “Christianity is all about inclusiveness. It’s built around the most profound act of love in human history, isn’t it? … I’m running for president of the United States because I believe I can bring us together. Strong leadership can help us find common solutions to our problems.”
And the second, zeroing in on the core difference between Mitt and Rudy that I mentioned the other day. In a word, authenticity:
“Isn’t it better that I tell you what I really believe instead of changing all my positions?” Giuliani told an audience of 2,000 at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summmit at a Washington hotel. “I believe trust is more important than 100 percent agreement.”
The audience, generally hostile to Giuliani, recognized the shot at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and laughter and a few cheers spread across the room.
These WYSIWYG/straight talk passages seem to have come early, though, during the icier parts of his reception. It was the red meat Reagan/family/Catholic-school references at the end that had the crowd coming around. As Weigel says, “If he wins over religious right voters, he’s not going to do it by opening avenues of mutual respect. He’s going to get them through symbolism and pandering.” Now it’s on to the conference straw poll, where he’s a mortal lock to finish near or at the bottom. If he can figure out a way to win the nomination with the corest of core Republicans against him and a primary strategy that’s inviting defeat in the first four states to vote, he should be elected just for having the brains and balls to pull that off.