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Associated Press-November 7, 2007
WASHINGTON – Moderate Republican presidential hopefuls Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday secured key endorsements that could translate into increased support from Christian conservatives who, so far, have viewed their candidacy with a measure of concern.
Former Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback, a conservative and favorite of evangelical Christians, endorsed McCain while Giuliani secured the backing of prominent Christian leader, televangelist and social conservative Pat Robertson, the candidates’ respective campaigns announced.
“It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans,” Robertson said during a news conference with Giuliani in Washington.
Giuliani backs abortion rights and gay rights, positions that put him in conflict with Republican orthodoxy, and has been trying to persuade cultural conservatives to overlook their differences with him on those issues.
He is best known to voters for leading New York in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Shortly after Sept. 11, Robertson released a statement in which he said the attacks occurred because Americans had insulted God and lost the protection of heaven by allowing abortion and “rampant Internet pornography.”
Robertson – who made a failed bid for the presidency in 1988 – made no mention of the differences on social conservative issues in a statement released.
Asked about the Robertson endorsement, McCain, at a news conference with Brownback in Dubuque, Iowa, said: “Every once in a while, I’m left speechless. This is one of those times.”
After announcing his support for McCain, Brownback was traveling with the candidate to campaign around the Iowa which, along with New Hampshire, plays an important role in the presidential nomination process. Candidates who do well in the caucuses and primaries in those early voting states often go on to secure their respective party’s nomination for the presidency.
“John McCain is the only candidate who can rally the Reagan coalition of conservatives, independents and conservative Democrats needed to defeat Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat in the general election next year,” Brownback said in a statement.
He praised McCain for spending a lifetime “standing up for human rights around the world, including a consistent 24-year pro-life record of protecting the rights of the unborn.”
Brownback’s nod to McCain could provide a much-needed boost to the Arizona senator’s faltering campaign. The one-time presumed Republican front-runner’s bid has suffered several setbacks and he is now looking for a comeback in the face of stronger showings by rivals Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Massachusetts’ former governor and another strong contender for the Republican nomination.
It is uncertain how much weight the Brownback’s backing will carry, especially since he dropped out of the presidential race last month with little money and little support.
While he is a favorite of religious conservatives, Brownback failed to persuade them to embrace him as the Republicans’ consensus conservative candidate. He spent months emphasizing his rock-solid opposition to abortion, gay marriage and other issues important to the party’s right flank, but left the race ranking low in national polls and state surveys.
Still, Brownback’s backing could signal to evangelical Christians that they can trust McCain and could help solidify McCain’s credentials on social issues. The endorsement could be especially important in Iowa, where McCain trails in polls.
Despite a solidly conservative Senate voting record on social issues, McCain has a rocky history with cultural and religious conservatives who make up a significant part of the Republican base – and have proven to be influential in Iowa’s Republican caucuses.
McCain once likened their leaders to “agents of intolerance,” but since has taken steps to heal his relationship with the voting group. Still, some are skeptical that McCain will be a loyal Republican who will champion their issues, partly because while his record is clear cut, he’s not a high-profile crusader against abortion rights and gay marriage.
Other candidates in the crowded Republican field had lobbied for Brownback’s support over the past few weeks.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist minister who has made strides in Iowa in recent weeks, was widely considered the other Republican most likely to get Brownback’s endorsement.
It is unclear whether Fred Thompson, another former senator and star on television’s “Law & Order” who was trying to emerge as the conservatives’ choice, ever got a look from Brownback.
Brownback did, however, talk with Giuliani, and emerged from the meeting with kind words about the former mayor. Yet, days earlier, Brownback told reporters he saw no way in which the Republicans would nominate a “pro-choice” Republican. It is doubtful that Romney, who reversed course on abortion, was ever in the running as Brownback spent months this summer bitterly criticizing Romney’s shifts on social issues.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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