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Hannity was the only interviewer Giuliani spoke with after he filed his FEC papers, and the Fox newsman returned the favor by asking soft, careful leading questions, guiding Giuliani to positions that would help cover his base.
HANNITY: Do you think it's acceptable if citizens have the right to carry a handgun?
GIULIANI: It's part of the Constitution. People have the right to bear arms. [His gun-control stance was needed in crime-ridden New York City, he says, but "in another place, more rural, more suburban ... you have a different set of rules."]
HANNITY: What do you think about the definition of marriage? Should it be between a man and a woman?
GIULIANI: Marriage should be between a man and a woman. [It's] exactly the position I've always had. [Despite rumors to the contrary--stirred up, perhaps, by memories of the mayor cross-dressing onstage at a New York City press dinner--he has long opposed gay marriage, even for his past roommates. He favors domestic-partner benefits and civil unions--which add up to something a lot like gay marriage in the eyes of many religious conservatives.]
So how conservative is Giuliani? "As mayor of New York, he cut taxes 23 times, limited government, fought for school choice, reformed welfare, cut crime and restored order. That's a record any conservative can be comfortable with," says his campaign manager, Mike DuHaime, a rising-star strategist who until recently was the Republican National Committee's political director. Giuliani advisers argue that the party's basic political calculus is changing. "This is the first wide-open G.O.P. primary season since before 9/11," one says, "and the war on terror is such an important issue with conservative and moderate voters alike, I'm not sure social issues are decisive now."
So maybe G.O.P. primary voters are prepared to see beyond the litmus tests. They may also eventually get to see the cranky, autocratic side of Giuliani--the side that New Yorkers grew weary of in the days before 9/11. That would be the Giuliani who ran his own talented police commissioner and three schools chancellors out of town and refused to meet with any number of African-American leaders, even after New York City cops fired 41 shots at an innocent, unarmed African immigrant named Amadou Diallo.
Giuliani supporters say that absent his hard edge, the mayor would never have been able to clean up Gotham. And although his temperament will surely become an issue if he wins the nomination, it may be an advantage in the primaries. After all, the angry undertones of his personality may appeal to primary voters who feel a kinship with Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. In fact, Limbaugh seems to be warming to Rudy. "He's a smart cookie ... Here's the thing about Giuliani," he said on his radio show the other day. "Everybody's got problems with him ... But when you start polling him on judges, he's a strict constructionist ... That will count for quite a bit. He can fix the abortion thing ... So I think he's got potential--particularly, folks, since we're still going to be at war somewhere in 2008."