Edsall writes that the two primary anti-Giuliani groups are The Conservative Declaration of Independence and Fidelis, both based in Michigan. He also mentions blogger Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal, who is working on a Catholics Against Rudy website. (Evangelicals for Mitt already exists, of course. Will we eventually see Catholics and Evangelicals Together Against Mitt and Rudy?)
Edsall strikes a tone of skepticism about the tactics and motives of The Conservative Declaration and Fidelis:
The early success of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid has provoked a groundswell of opposition from disparate forces including conservative Catholics, remnants of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns and regional political operatives seeking to break into the Republican firmament.
The opposition is united in its determination to block Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights and gay rights, from becoming the GOP’s standard bearer. But lurking just beneath the surface is another motive for these anti-Giuliani conservatives: cash. The groups hope to benefit from a large constituency of donors willing to write big checks to bring down the former New York City mayor. The donors include backers of Giuliani’s competitors as well as ideologues of the right.
The story has not yet received attention from a major media outlet, but Shir Haberman of the Portsmouth Herald has covered it.
On a related note, longtime conservative activist Grover Norquist tells Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone that early polling suggests the Religious Right does not dominate the GOP after all:
You can make the argument that some candidates would be more enthusiastic about going further on the social conservative agenda, and some may well excite the leadership of the social conservative movement, but I don’t believe that it moves votes. Take a look at how McCain and Giuliani and Romney are polling. Who are the three top guys? Pat Robertson sees two pagans and a Mormon. Everybody’s heard that Giuliani dressed up in drag. If my analysis was wrong, would he be polling as well as he is? Romney is a Mormon, which evangelicals see as theologically flawed, and McCain picked a public fight in 2000 with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those are the three Republicans polling the best!
If 40 percent of the GOP base truly had Dobson’s 20 point test then a candidate such as Huckabee should be one of the frontrunners. He’s not, and that’s why I think my analysis is the correct one. The press is going to want to talk about and solicit quotations from self-appointed leaders about how unacceptable certain of these candidates are. I don’t think that translates. You have to convince people that one of these candidates would work actively against their privacy zone on faith and childrearing. And I’m not sure that anyone of them is going to fail that test.
Clearly the voting in early primaries will matter more than any poll, but Norquist makes a good argument.
Edsall compares the anti-Giuliani groups to the Swift Vets. That feels too dismissive. What bears watching is whether social conservatives will push more for the candidate they support than against the candidates they believe are bad for the party or the nation. What’s clear, at least from Edsall’s work, is that if IOKIYAR prevails in the end, it will not do so without resistance from some quarters of the Republican Party. For now, they’re being written off (at least by Edsall) as well-funded ideologues. But, then, that criticism could apply to any political partisan.