Gizzi on Politics: Mar. 19-24

‘A Moose-Stake’ on Rudy’s Abortion Stand (Sort Of)

I made a Moose-stake,” is what Morris the Moose, beloved hero of five books for children, finally concedes after realizing that a fellow creature he has insisted is also a moose is in fact a cow.

So it was with me after returning from the California Republican State Convention last month and reporting that Rudy Giuliani “still characterizes himself as ‘pro-choice’ and has never reversed his oft-stated 1990s opposition to a ban on partial-birth abortion” (see Human Events, February 26, Page One). Within days, Tim O’Brien, director of Rapid Response for the former New York mayor’s presidential exploratory committee, wrote me to say, “You’re way off on your statement on Rudy Giuliani and partial-birth abortion.” He attached a transcript from Sean Hannity’s Fox News interview with Giuliani on February 5 (five days before the New Yorker addressed the California GOP and I sent back my story online). In the interview, Rudy did, in fact, reverse his previously reported position on banning partial-birth abortion—sort of.

In 1998, at the height of debate in Congress over a ban on partial-birth abortion, which passed several times, was vetoed by Bill Clinton but later signed into law by George W. Bush after he became President, the New York Times reported that then-Mayor Giuliani was against the proposed ban. In his appearance with Hannity on February 5, however, Giuliani said he thought “that ban is going to be upheld. I think it should be. And I think, as long as there’s a provision for the life of the mother, then that’s something that should be done.”

“There’s a misconception that you supported partial-birth abortion,” said Hannity.

“Yes, well, if it doesn’t have a provision for the life of the mother, then I wouldn’t support the legislation,” replied Giuliani. “If it has a provision for the life of the mother, then I would support it.”

O’Brien added a postscript to the transcript explaining that “the mayor’s different takes on the different partial-birth abortion bans is rooted in the varying language regarding life/health exceptions. From what I’ve provided above, your statement is clearly inaccurate, and I think you should correct it.”

Now that I know Giuliani’s “different takes,” which were made five days before I wrote my story, I stand corrected.

But last week, Giuliani had other problems on the abortion front, as a video surfaced on that showed then-mayoral candidate Giuliani saying in 1989 that “there must be public funding for abortions for poor women. We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources.” Giuliani did not mention the video in his subsequent remarks to reporters but said only: “Republicans are essentially the party of strong national defense and fiscal discipline. Do we have disagreements on some other issues? Of course, [but] I think those two big themes kind of unite us.”

Death of a Renaissance Man

Even if he had not served as mayor of Bismarck, N.D. (1950-54), Republican U.S. representative (1966-70), and secretary of the Interior (1975-77), Thomas S. Kleppe would have been remembered as a man with a remarkable and well-rounded life: cowboy, star athlete, and rags-to-riches entrepreneur. When he died March 2 at 87 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his friends consistently recalled his life of achievement.

After a year at Valley City State University (N.D.), Kleppe became a cowboy on the rodeo circuit. Sports long appeared to be his calling: He once bowled 300, got two holes-in-one in golf, and was offered a contract in professional baseball.

But any opportunities for an athletic career were interrupted by World War II, and the young Kleppe served as a warrant officer in the U.S. Army. Following his discharge, he joined the Gold Seal Co., a manufacturer of household goods, and rose from bookkeeper to president.

Elected mayor of Bismarck at 31, Kleppe unsuccessfully took on Sen. (1959-1992) Quentin Burdick (D.-N.D.) in 1964. Then, two years later, he unseated Democratic Rep. (1964-66) Rolland Redlin after a campaign that slammed the incumbent’s support of the Johnson Administration’s “war on poverty” and creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rep. Kleppe took the lead on several key conservative issues, notably restoring the investment tax credit up to $15,000 for farmers and small businessmen. In 1970, he made another race against Burdick, attacking the senator’s “ultra-liberal” voting record and support from Big Labor, with Human Events noting that “in few other places in the country are the ideological lines more clearly drawn than in North Dakota.” But again, Kleppe went down.

President Gerald Ford later named the North Dakotan head of the Small Business Administration and then secretary of the Interior. Kleppe infuriated environmentalists by approving the sale of oil and gas drilling rights off the coast of Southern California and then proposing legislation to permit private companies to develop oil and gas field on Alaska’s North Slope of Alaska. But he also angered hunters when he ruled that lead pellets no longer could be used in shotguns for hunting fowl.

Kleppe’s credo could best be summed up in a much-praised article he wrote for Human Events (Jan. 24, 1970) titled “What’s Right With America.” “America’s balance sheet is good,” he said, “Whatever our problems, this is still the best place in the world in which to live … millions of people are clamoring to get in. America must be doing something right, despite what the critics say.”

Short Takes

Hudgens Out, Whitehead Up: Less than two weeks after he laid out elaborate plans to run in the special election to succeed late Rep. (1994-2007) Charlie Norwood (R.-Ga.), Republican State Sen. Ralph Hudgens announced last week that he wouldn’t run after all. “I just didn’t have the fire in the belly,” the 64-year-old Hudgens told me, adding that he and wife Suzanne had prayed hard about whether to run. For all the early financial and political backing for a House race by Hudgens, he said that he just did not want to leave his perch as a committee chairman in the senate for the race. Under Georgia election law, a state office-holder must resign from one office if he seeks another.

Hudgens’ decision leaves the front-runner status to succeed Norwood to fellow Republican Jim Whitehead of Augusta, also 64 and a state senator. Other Republican possibilities include conservative activist William Greene of Braseltown, physician Paul Broun, and Jackie Poteet, founder of Apartment Finder magazine. Tenth District Democrats are expected to settle on one candidate to compete in the June 19 special election, in which all candidates, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot. If no one wins an outright majority, a run-off will be held between the top two vote-getters four weeks later (see “Politics,” March 5).

Centrists Exit Richmond: In what is a national trend among Republicans, two of the most high-profile non-conservative Republicans in the Virginia State Senate have announced they are retiring this year. State Sen. Russell Potts announced that he would not run again. Potts, considered liberal on spending and cultural issues, enraged GOPers when he sought the governorship as an Independent in 2005.

Potts’ announced exit was followed by that of State Sen. John Chichester of Stafford County, a legislator for 29 years and the 1985 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. In 2001, the 69-year-old Chichester defied his party on the tax issue by vigorously opposing the plan of former Republican Gov. (1997-2001) James Gilmore to phase out the state’s car tax, claiming there wasn’t enough money in the budget to cover the phase-out. In ’04, Chichester helped Democratic Gov. (2001-05) Mark Warner pass a $1.38-billion tax increase, and last year called for more than $1 billion in new taxes for transportation.

Told of Chichester’s exit, State Republican Chairman Ed Gillespie said: “Sen. Chichester is obviously looking forward to being a former senator, and a lot of people are sharing that sentiment with him.”

“I imagine both of us will be replaced by Republicans who are arch-conservatives,” Potts told reporters concerning Chichester and himself.