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Giuliani's popularity in '08 race alarms religious conservative leaders

Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, and Gary Bauer, of American Values, were guests at a Monitor breakfast Wednesday.

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Washington - It is tough time for religious conservatives.

"We are struggling about what to do in a very difficult election cycle," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values, at a Monitor breakfast Wednesday. The nonprofit group describes itself as "defending life and traditional marriage" as well as standing against "liberal education and cultural forces."

Affiliated for 30 years with a Republican Party that has defined itself as pro-life and pro-family, religious conservatives are viewing the current GOP presidential race with alarm. A key reason: The candidate sitting atop the national polls is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who supports a woman's right to choose an abortion and who favors at least some rights for gay partners.

Whether Mr. Giuliani would be an acceptable Republican candidate is an issue which exposes fault lines among movement leaders.

"He gives social conservatives very little to be motivated about," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which describes itself as championing "marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society."

Giuliani " has stated a pro-abortion-rights position. There is nothing more fundamental to social conservatives than the preservation of human life, the sanctity of human life. Right behind that is the issue of marriage. He is wrong on that issue as well," Mr. Perkins said at the breakfast.

He offers only a barely concealed warning to the Republican Party. "If they break faith with evangelical social conservatives on these issues, I believe a lot of social conservatives will break ranks with the GOP. I don't think it is enough to scare them with Hillary."

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