Friday, May 18, 2007

Dobson says he will not back Giuliani in 2008

Dobson says he will not back Giuliani in 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Religious conservative leader James Dobson said on Thursday he would not vote for 2008 Republican presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani under any circumstances because of his support for abortion rights and his three marriages.

Dobson, head of the influential Colorado-based group Focus on the Family, said Giuliani was not suited for the White House. Dobson said he would be willing to sit out the November 2008 election if Giuliani is the Republican presidential nominee.

"I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008," Dobson wrote in a commentary posted online at the Web site

Given a choice between Giuliani and the Democratic nominee, he said, "I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran -- or if worse comes to worst -- not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life."

Dobson is a prominent voice among the religious and social conservatives who are powerful forces in the early Republican nominating contests. His criticism follows several weeks of attacks on Giuliani by conservatives over his support of abortion rights.

The attacks were spurred by his comments at the first Republican debate in California, where he appeared to be waffling on the issue.

"Is Rudy Giuliani presidential timber? I think not," Dobson said in the commentary.

"Can we really trust a chief executive who waffles and feigns support for policies that run contrary to his alleged beliefs? Of greater concern is how he would function in office," he said.

Giuliani leads the 10-man Republican field in national polls despite longstanding doubts about his candidacy from conservatives, but he has seen his lead over second-place Sen. John McCain of Arizona shrink in recent weeks as social issues have moved to the fore of the debate.

Giuliani earned a national reputation for his leadership while he was mayor of New York after the September 11 attacks.

Dobson said Giuliani had tried to hide his views from conservatives, but "this leopard has not changed his spots." He also said the former mayor's three marriages raised "moral concerns about Giuliani's candidacy that conservatives should find troubling."