The Politico's Allen repeated baseless claim that McCain and Giuliani are "moderates"


In a February 15 Politico article on how "Republican presidential campaigns are suddenly giving" California voters "intense attention," chief political correspondent Mike Allen again cast Republican presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as "candidates with moderate images in the mold of" California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Allen quoted an anonymous "Republican strategist" saying "California is fundamentally a Western state, except for Los Angeles and Hollywood," but added his own caveat, writing: "A notable exception, however, is California voters' overwhelmingly [sic] support for abortion rights." Allen, however, failed to reconcile that fact -- California voters' support for abortion rights -- with his claim that McCain and Giuliani have "moderate images," suggesting that they would be appealing to California voters. In fact, as Media Matters for America has previously pointed out, McCain's record on abortion -- the issue Allen identifies as having central importance to California voters -- is characterized by inconsistencies and evasiveness, rather than moderation, and Giuliani has very recently flip-flopped on one aspect of the issue while denying that he was doing so.

As Media Matters noted, Allen, on the February 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, similarly claimed that McCain and Giuliani are "socially moderate Republicans."

From Allen's February 15 Politico article:

This year though, the state suddenly looks alluring to Republicans -- and not just for the cash or dreams. The Republican presidential campaigns are suddenly giving the state intense attention for two reasons:

* California is poised to move its presidential primary from June, when it was irrelevant, up to Feb. 5, creating a potential jackpot near the start of the nominating contests.

* Giuliani and McCain are pro-business candidates with moderate images in the mold of Schwarzenegger, a Republican who easily won re-election in November. Golden State experts say that if either one heads the GOP ticket, he could put the state in play for the general election -- a seismic change in an electoral map where the same states get disproportionate attention in election after election.


Both McCain and Giuliani are working hard in high-tech Silicon Valley and the agricultural Central Valley. "The key is that California is fundamentally a Western state, except for Los Angeles and Hollywood," said a Republican strategist following the race closely.

A notable exception, however, is California voters' overwhelmingly [sic] support for abortion rights. If Schwarzenegger had been anti-abortion, analysts agree, he probably would not have been elected.

As Media Matters noted, McCain said in 1999 that he "would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade," but then issued a "clarification" several days later, reportedly saying: "I have always believed in the importance of the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and as president, I would work toward its repeal." In 2005, he adopted yet another position, saying that he agreed "to some degree" that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. In 2006, McCain also issued a statement indicating that if he were the governor of South Dakota, he "would have signed" a controversial bill outlawing all abortions except when the life of the woman is threatened, but that he "would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included." As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted: "But that attempt at qualification makes no sense: the South Dakota law has produced national shockwaves precisely because it prohibits abortions even for victims of rape or incest."

Giuliani has shifted his stance on abortion in a seeming effort to appeal to religious conservatives. As Media Matters noted, Giuliani now says he supports a ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortions, despite opposing such a ban in 2000. Giuliani explains his current support by noting that the current law banning the procedure contains an exception when necessary to protect "the life of the mother." This explanation, however, lacks credibility, because, as blogger and media critic Greg Sargent wrote: "The version of the ban that Rudy opposed back then contained the provision for the life of the mother that Rudy is now saying is a prerequisite for his support of it." According to a February 10 New York Times article, "Mr. Giuliani's campaign aides say his positions on abortion have not changed, and that his stand on what critics call partial-birth abortions has been mischaracterized, saying he opposed a ban only if it failed to include an exception to protect the life of the mother."

Also, as Media Matters noted, before becoming mayor, Giuliani trumpeted his opposition to abortion rights but reportedly shifted his position following the U.S. Supreme Court's July 1989 decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. In an October 13, 1989, article, The New York Times called Giuliani a "support[er]" of "the right of a woman to choose an abortion." Giuliani said he had "talk[ed] to [his] wife" about the issue following the Webster decision. The Associated Press explained in an October 13, 1989, article: "Once an outright opponent, [Giuliani] now says he supports abortion rights, and would not seek to reduce funds or services, even though he remains personally opposed."

The Politico
Mike Allen
Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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