He’s got nothing to lose. This “support the right, oppose the practice” two-step he’s been trying isn’t convincing anyone, not with receipts from Planned Parenthood and NARAL luncheons to his credit. Defending another’s right to engage in an activity you find immoral is a respectable libertarian position; inducing them to engage in it by cutting them checks and giving them pep talks is a bit different. The man obviously believes in abortion. Take him or, as most social cons will, leave him.

Either way, no sense anymore trying to hedge the issue.

After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.

At the same time, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign — seeking to accomplish the unusual task of persuading Republicans to nominate an abortion rights supporter — is eyeing a path to the nomination that would try to de-emphasize the early states in which abortion opponents wield a great deal of influence. Instead they would focus on the so-called mega-primary of Feb. 5, in which voters in states like California, New York and New Jersey are likely to be more receptive to Mr. Giuliani’s social views than voters in Iowa and South Carolina…

Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that his stance on abortion alone might disqualify him with some voters, but he said, “I am at peace with that.”…

Giuliani advisers, describing their strategy in what has emerged as one of the most challenging weeks of his campaign, said Republican primary voters would forgive their concerns about him on abortion and other social issues if they concluded that his positions on those issues would actually appeal to Democratic voters and thus make him the strongest Republican presidential candidate in 2008.

In other words, shun the social cons in the primary, then hold the “anyone but Hillary” gun to their head in the general. Or, to put it slightly differently, ignore the deep red states he needs to win in November in favor of blue states he has little chance of stealing from the Democrats. Sounds like a plan. Meanwhile, Fred’s next speech is slated to be introduced by Richard Land and involve a “call to arms” about “values.” If he wasn’t planning to devote much of it to the right to life, I’m sure he is now.

What this will do for Rudy is get the abortion issue squarely out on the table so he can get it off again and start talking about terrorism. It’ll work, too; pestering him about it after the media storm blows over will bore people and seem like overkill. Expect the next tidbits from GOP oppo researchers to focus on his terror record, then — malfunctioning radios for first responders on 9/11, putting the city’s emergency crisis center in WTC 7 even though the Trade Center had been targeted by jihadis once before, etc.

Exit question: Hasn’t Rudy already publicly embraced abortion rights? That is to say, what kind of answer is he going to give now that he hasn’t been giving all along? “Roe is good law, root and branch”? I don’t get it.