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Brownback on Rudy and More

By Justin Miller

Sam Brownback stood by his claim that he could support a pro-choice Republican nominee like Rudy Giuliani after his campaign sent an e-mail to supporters Wednesday evening criticizing Giuliani's support for abortion rights.

I sat down with Brownback during a campaign stop in Michigan yesterday where the Kansas Republican said he wasn't aware of the e-mail entitled "Rudy is Wrong," but explained his position nonetheless.

"I think the standard bearer should be pro-life," Brownback said, adding he thought the nominee would be pro-life.

When asked if he could support a pro-choice nominee, Brownback said, "I do think it's important that the party be pro-life." The GOP is a "pro-life party with a pro-choice wing," and the pro-life position is "the moral position," he said. A pro-choice nominee would move away from the party's platform and history, but "we need to be a big tent party" and it's important to embrace the pro-choice wing, he said.

"We should back the party nominee," Brownback added, because even a pro-choice Republican would be more likely to appoint strict constructionist jurists than a Democrat. Brownback quoted Ronald Reagan's axiom about someone who agrees with you 80 percent of the time isn't 20 percent your enemy.

Brownback talked about his political philosophy and how he can appeal to pro-choice voters by being "pro-life and whole-life," which applies to protecting the unborn but "also applies to the child in Darfur, the man in prison and the woman in public assistance." The senator said many liberals support his efforts on Darfur as well as his efforts to reduce prison recidivism. He also said he thinks he can bring them around to accept his philosophy about life inside the womb.

I asked Brownback about a part of his philosophy that many find difficult to accept: abortion not being acceptable in cases of rape. How do people, of any political persuasion, respond when you say abortion in that case should be refused?

Brownback said it "comes across well when you explain" that rape is a horrible crime whose victims should be helped and given a chance to adopt, but "you don't compound it by killing an innocent child."

On the campaign itself, Brownback was optimistic about his ground operations, saying many college students are volunteering for him in Iowa this summer and that that should help him in the Ames straw poll in August. However, he thought his message plays better in South Carolina than Iowa, especially on the issues of life and the "need to invite faith back in the public life."

Brownback touched on difficulties the GOP has had recently, saying that sometimes when candidates talk about social issues it's "perceived as stone-throwing." Brownback elaborated his views on the family, saying you can raise a good family without the traditional family unit but that doesn't mean the nation and government shouldn't protect the optimal idea of a traditional family. Lastly, Brownback said his party and the nation must win in Iraq.

Justin Miller is an assistant editor at RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at © 2000-2007 All Rights Reserved

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