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Senator Vitter on His Giuliani Endorsement

I was able to speak to Senator David Vitter of Louisiana yesterday about his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani which was announced last week. Vitter is the first Senator to endorse Giuliani and will be serving as the campaign's Southern Regional Chair. He will "help lead the campaign's efforts to build support in the south and in the United States Senate."

National Journal's Hotline called Vitter's endorsement, "a major and important endorsement" and said it would "help whip support among Southern conservatives."

Real Clear Politics' John McIntyre said of the endorsement:

Endorsements by your average governor or senator are usually not that big a deal, especially from a state that does not have a significant role in the nominating process, but Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's endorsement of Giuliani is a big positive for the Giuliani campaign, because it sends a message that Rudy is acceptable to social conservatives. If a social conservative from a southern state like David Vitter can get behind the former mayor of New York, it takes some of the punch out of the anti-Giuliani analysis that he will be found unacceptable to Republican primary voters.

Senator Vitter said he had several reasons for choosing to endorse a Giuliani candidacy. He cited first and foremost the need for leadership in time of war and terror and referred to the leadership Giuliani showed in New York City as mayor. In addition to his performance following 9/11, he specifically cited the conservative fiscal policy Giuliani championed in New York City.

Vitter said one of the reasons he is convinced that Giuliani would make a good president is because he believes he would appoint good conservative judges. I asked what convinced him that Giuliani would appoint conservative judges. He listed three reasons: 1) meetings with the mayor and comments made to him personally, 2) public statements Giuliani has made about judicial philosophy and his opinions of justices like Alito and Scalia, and 3) (most important) Giuliani's legal experience in the Reagan Justice Department, as well as endorsements from people like Ted Olson. His assurance that Giuliani would appoint conservative judges as president is the reason Vitter feels comfortable endorsing Giuliani in spite of their differences on some major social issues.

I asked Vitter what kind of response he had received from his constituents, particularly social conservatives, to his endorsement of Giuliani. He said he had received emails from constituents commenting on the endorsement and didn't have a count, but that he had heard from both sides with both positive and negative feedback.

I asked if his state's experiences during Katrina played a role in his decision to endorse Giuliani. He said it played a huge role. He was disappointed with the leadership he saw in Louisiana during Katrina and that experience showed him just how important good leadership is, especially when dealing with a crisis. He said that seeing how Giuliani had performed following 9/11 convinced him that he has the leadership the country needs.

I asked what specific statements from Giuliani had convinced him that he was the best choice? He said it was not what he said, but rather his performance. "We are at war against radical extremist Islam" and "actions speak louder than words" reiterating the importance of Giuliani's response to the 9/11 attacks and his overall record of accomplishments as mayor of New York City.

Since Vitter is serving as the Southern Regional chair for the campaign, I asked if there was anything in particular that Giuliani needed to do to bridge the North/South cultural gap. He pointed out that Giuliani is surprising just about everyone by leading the other major candidates in the polls, even in the south. He saw this as evidence that Giuliani would not have the trouble in the South that many had predicted.

Vitter made clear that he is still "conservative across the board and that won't change." He said that even though he has differences with Giuliani on some issues, mainly social issues, he will continue to speak out and work on those issues that are important to him.

Comments (9)

Vitter certainly brings cre... (Below threshold)

Vitter certainly brings credible conservative credentials to the Giuliani campaign, but McCain still leads by far in endorsements from elected officials.

The good news is that endorsements rarely mean much in political campaigns. Oh, they get a day or two of good press, and the impression made on the other campaigns is of some psychological value, but they don't translate into votes.

McCain can't seem to regain any momentum relative to Rudy OR Romney. His numbers are flat at best, if not declining, and that baseline is below his performance in 2000 in NH, SC, and MI - not a good sign for someone who was supposed to be "the next guy in line," usually a safe ticket to the GOP nomination.

As a Deep Southern, pro-life, pro-victory, pro-traditional marriage, gun-owning, social and economic conservative, I am leaning towards Giuliani. So are most of the similarly oriented people I speak with. It is definitely a surprising phenomenon, but a very real one.

As the race stands today, I expect Rudy to be the nominee, and I believe the biggest threat to him is the potential for a Thompson run as a "conservative alternative."

Giuliani took on the mafia ... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

Giuliani took on the mafia like nobody since Bobby Kennedy and kicked the crap out of them - at great personal risk. Elliot Ness all over again.

Giuliani turned NYC 180 degrees: crime wise, budget wise, welfare wise and attitude wise.

Then there was the time Giuliani told the Saudis to shove it when they offered him a large sum after 911.

Guy like that just has to be supported, North, South, East or West.

Lorie I was very interested... (Below threshold)

Lorie I was very interested to read your post....

(Full Disclosure: I have a bit of connection to Vitter and his campaigns. I'll skip exactly how but suffice it to say, I've been a Vitter backer for 12+ years and worked on every campaign he needed help on.)

Vitter is taking a BEATING from social conservatives down here.

Perhaps time will change things but at this point it is turning into the "boomerang endorsement." It was supposed to bolster Rudy's standing with social conservatives but instead it brought Vitter (who was flying fairly high post Katrina) down among the conservatives...

I don't think the long term effects are going to be that great, Vitter's Senate seat is safe and I doubt he wants to go anywhere else (gov) any time soon. People will get over it...

But this week, he's taking a beating on the street over this one.

With any luck, Democrats ma... (Below threshold)

With any luck, Democrats may get the chance to have the conversation with themselves that Democrats seem intent on denying themselves.

Uh, I mean, Republicans may... (Below threshold)

Uh, I mean, Republicans may get the chance to have the conversation.

Damn Republicans - stealing... (Below threshold)

Damn Republicans - stealing the Democrats' conversation.

The thing I don't understan... (Below threshold)

The thing I don't understand about the resistance that some Social Conservatives are expressing about Rudy is that their support of people like Bush has gotten them nowhere. It just doesn't seem that election season posturing as a "true conservative" translates into any real change once in Washington. Rudy doesn't posture as a true conservative and yet he arguably implemented the most effective rollback of Liberal policies in favor of largely Conservative policies in the last Century. He may not talk the talk but he damn well walked the walk when it came down to it. You certainly CANNOT say the same for Bush.

I volunteered for David Vit... (Below threshold)
Thomas Scott Ball, Jr:

I volunteered for David Vitter in the 1980s to get him elected to two terms in the Louisiana state Legislature. Neither before nor since has a candidate for office (along with his wonderful wife Wendy) knocked on my door not once, not twice, but three times.

He was hated in the Legislature because he was anti-corruption, anti-gambling, and pro-public disclosure of public records. In no small part, he is responsible for our former 'Governor' Edwards being in jail, ex-insurance commissioners being sent to jail, the gambling lobby being held in check, the act of lobbyists handing out paychedks on the floor of the Legislature being put to an end, and the doling out of Tulane scholarships by Senators being exposed. I could go on.

While he is a bit to the right of my political leaning, he embodies the one ideal I hold first and foremost in an elected official: TRUST.

I questioned David's endorsement or Rudy at first glance, but the more I evaluate it, EDUCATED LEADERSHIP is where I believe we can all agree. Furhermore, having experienced the pathetic response from all levels of government to the nation's most catostrpohic natural disaster, Hurrican Katrina, we need a 9/11 leader like Rudy to bust some skulls.


Thomas Scott Ball, Jr.

New Orleans, LA

first off i have been for s... (Below threshold)
David fazio:

first off i have been for sentor Vitter for long time he is for most of the time i like so it does not bother me he is for Mayor Guiliani. i want to vote for guiliani but i want to know moor about him for Amnesty for illegals. would like to talk to someone to get answer. i can live on some of the other he is for.






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