The Republicans’ Split

A fierce onslaught of endorsements has begun, the most notable being Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani. The overriding rationale for Robertson’s endorsement: “To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists.” How’s that for fearmongering?

In other endorsement news, Sam Brownback lent his support to John McCain’s campaign, the Kansan citing the Arizona senator as ” the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.” Marc Ambinder has his take on how this helps McCain in Iowa. And rounding it all up, Paul Weyrich, a godfather of the modern conservative movement, endorsed Mitt Romney.

What does this recent slew of endorsements mean for the GOP race? The lack of unity reveals deep divisions among leading social conservatives, as they fail to coalesce around a single candidate. As long as the religious vote is divvied up among several candidates (e.g. Romney, Thompson, Huckabee), Giuliani wins out in the end.

An escalating feud between Thompson and Huckabee shows each campaign trying to knock the other out in order to build a larger anti-Giuliani base. However, Romney has the better strategy in also going after Giuliani himself.  Giuliani backers have qualms about their candidate, and Romney criticizing the mayor on the hot-button issue of immigration exacerbates those reservations.

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