Baptist Head Says Giuliani’s Divorces a Problem

The political spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention says evangelicals will have a tough time voting for Rudy Giuliani.

A Southern Baptist leader said Tuesday that evangelical voters might tolerate a divorced presidential candidate, but they have deep doubts about GOP hopeful Rudy Giuliani, who has been married three times. Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Associated Press that evangelicals believe the former New York City mayor showed a lack of character during his divorce from his second wife, television personality Donna Hanover. “I mean, this is divorce on steroids,” Land said. “To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children. That’s rough. I think that’s going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren’t pro-choice and pro-gun control.”

There’s not much doubt about that, although John McCain and Newt Gingrich probably aren’t going to be talking about the divorce issue very much. Then again, Land thinks that won’t matter:

Land noted that Republican presidential candidate John McCain has been married twice, but said the Arizona senator has acknowledged his part in the failure of his first marriage. “It’s a molehill compared to Giuliani’s mountain,” Land said. “When you’re a war hero [like McCain], you have less to prove on the character front.”

Except that McCain is easily the least liked of all the Republican contenders.

The polls aren’t much help in figuring this one out. Recent polls and analyses by Gallup, for example, send very different signals.

So, it’s possible that Giuliani’s current favorability represents a ceiling and that his numbers will drop once people get to know more about him. Then again, people already known McCain pretty well and can’t stand him. And the only major Republican candidate who is clean on the marriage front is Romney, the Mormon. And being a Mormon is almost as much baggage as being twice-divorced.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

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  2. Triumph says:

    You would think that the fact that Giuliani’s first wife was also his cousin would earn him points with the Southern Baptists.

    Of course, maybe the fact that he lived with a pair of gay lovers after the second divorce was considered a strike against him.

  3. There may be a few voters for whom this will be a deal breaker, but I suspect that most GOP and general election voters will look at the total package. This isn’t likely to earn him points, but if you compare three divorces to the democrats stand on social issues and their character issues, I don’t see it being the stopping point in the general.

    Land needs to consider who he likes in the primary and then who he likes on the democratic side better than the rest of the GOP field. All candidates will have flaws, so be careful about throwing the first stone.

  4. Matt says:

    The church I was taken to when I was a kid removed a guy who had started and led a pretty successful outreach when they learned that he had been divorced.

    I heard a few years ago that they’d hired a pastor who was on his third marriage.

    Things change.

  5. Triumph says:

    This isn’t likely to earn him points, but if you compare three divorces to the democrats stand on social issues and their character issues, I don’t see it being the stopping point in the general.

    Yeah, if Giuliani wins the primary he will CLEARLY be distinguished from the Democrat candidate on all of the social issues important to the Religious right:

    Abortion:
    Obama/Clinton/Edwards= Pro Choice
    Rudy= Pro choice

    Civil Rights for Gays:
    Obama/Clinton/Edwards= Pro civil unions
    Rudy= Pro civil unions

    Church/State separation:
    O/C/E= Support separation
    Rudy= Support separation

    The only scenario where Rudy’s social issue platform beats a Democrat is in the case of an Edwards candidacy. Edwards IS gay whereby Rudy never came out of the closet–although he is a cross dresser–he merely lived with a pair of gay lovers for a couple of months.

  6. legion says:

    Well, I’ll give Land credit for being the first person (on the right) I’ve seen to complain about _how_ Rudy’s divorces went, rather than simplay making noises about the _fact_ that he’s divorced.

    That said, if someone waves enough money in front of Hannover to get her to really dish, Rudy’s approval will probably drop in-line with his buddy Bernie Kerik’s…

  7. Michael says:

    The only scenario where Rudys social issue platform beats a Democrat is in the case of an Edwards candidacy. Edwards IS gay whereby Rudy never came out of the closetalthough he is a cross dresserhe merely lived with a pair of gay lovers for a couple of months.

    You realize of course that the further this “Edwards is gay” joke goes, the harder it will be for any candidate to attack his character in any way without being compared to Coulter.

  8. Triumph says:

    You realize of course that the further this “Edwards is gay” joke goes, the harder it will be for any candidate to attack his character in any way without being compared to Coulter.

    This likley won’t be a problem for the Republicans since there is no way that the Democrat party will select a suspected homosexual as their nominee.

  9. legion says:

    Michael,
    Yeah, but that only applies to other Dems in the Primaries… lord knows absolutely _nothing_ stands in the way of the GOP’s character assassinations…

  10. floyd says:

    Whether it’s the “Republican party” or “marriage”; it sounds like Giuliani would be loyal to the institution but not the constituents![lol]