This shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially based on the discussion on The Corner over the past year or so. It’s no secret that editor Kathryn Lopez is a big fan, but it must have been hard to reach a consensus on this, since there are others at NRO who are openly supporting other candidates.
Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.
That’s one question I’ve always had about Rudy Giuliani. Can he win enough blue states to make up for the loss of some red states usually solid for Republican nominees? I don’t know the answer to that question. He might be able to do it, but there are no guarantees. On the other hand, I have more doubts about a Huckabee candidacy than I do about Giuliani’s bid. Right now the fiscal and foreign-policy conservatives see Huckabee as a serious threat to their worldview if elected. With all of the foreign policy challenges we have, we can’t afford to have a rookie making those decisions. He has the same naive belief in the power of diplomacy as many of the Democrats. The most optimistic view of Huckabee’s record on spending is that it is a mixed bag of tax cuts and tax increases. We don’t know which Huckabee we will get as President — the tax cutter or the tax hiker. But his faith in government is disturbing, and it’s enough to keep the fiscal cons off of the Huckabee bandwagon.
There is no question that a Giuliani or a Huckabee nomination would split the conservative base in the way the National Review editorial describes. Republicans need a united base in order to have a fighting chance against the Democratic nominee. Of course, the threat of a Hillary presidency is scary enough that Giuliani could overcome the loss of some social conservatives. But we should acknowledge the possibility of such a split in the base when deciding on our nominee.