Giuliani Likely to Address Abortion in Speech on Friday

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007; 4:48 PM

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani travels Friday to Houston Baptist University for a campaign speech on economics and national security. But the GOP front runner is likely to confront the topic that has dogged him for more than a week: abortion.

Giuliani's advisers say Friday's speech will focus broadly on his standard themes, including "the two 'T's' -- taxes and terrorism." But sources said the forum will give Giuliani a fresh opportunity to address his support for abortion rights. On that, he will leave no doubt that his position has not changed, they said.

The lone pro-choice candidate in the GOP field, Giuliani has been criticized for appearing to duck and weave on the abortion issue during last week's debate in California. Asked whether the landmark abortion case, Roe V. Wade should be overturned, Giuliani waffled, saying essentially that it would be OK either way.

His rivals pounced, accusing him of waffling on an issue of conscience, a charge that could be even worse for his presidential prospects than outright support of a woman's right to choose.

All of which leaves Giuliani in the difficult place he has been for months: how to win the Republican nomination when many, if not most, of the likely GOP voters are in a very different place.

His explanation -- that he supports a woman's right to choose, but "hates abortion" and will appoint "strict constructionist" judges who are likely to overrule Roe -- could still leave voters to wonder which side he's on. Will a President Giuliani seek congressional protection for abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe?

Maybe we'll find out in Houston tomorrow morning.

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