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Vitter's unsual bedfellow strategy carries low risk, high gain

To get as far as Sen. David Vitter has in the political world, one has to have good political instincts and be willing to take risks. In his decision to endorse former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination, Vitter relies on both qualities.

With decidedly non-conservative views on social issue such as abortion, single-sex marriage, and on gun control, Giuliani would not appear to mesh well with Vitter who would oppose Giuliani on all three, as would the majority of Vitter’s Louisiana constituents. Nevertheless, Giuliani and Vitter do see eye-to-eye on most other parts of the conservative agenda.

It’s clear a deal has been made, with Vitter’s nod being a source of comfort to conservatives uneasy with Giuliani’s strays from the ideological fold, while Vitter would gain great prominence under any Giuliani Administration for helping him at a crucial time. His appointment as a major campaign operative of Giuliani’s points to this. And, when analyzed, it’s not exactly a big risk for Vitter.

If the frontrunner Giuliani doesn’t end up grabbing the nomination, in contrast to the last several Republican presidential derbies, Vitter may lose a little luster back home, but not nearly enough to invite a conservative challenge nor really to empower any liberal opponent. Absent major mistakes, Vitter seems set for a long run as one of the state’s senators, affording him the chance to get out in front of a candidacy most conservatives, even those primarily interested in social issues, would have to support. The two most likely Democrat nominees, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are among the most liberal in the body, especially on social issues. Few social conservatives could stand by and be complicit through non-participation in allowing such antithetical candidates the chance to get in the White House by deferring even lukewarm support for Giuliani.

By 2010, when Vitter must run for reelection, either a misstep will be forgotten largely, or his enhanced stature will make him more powerful – and potentially more helpful for Louisiana’s interests – than ever. While this isn’t exactly a case of politics making for strange bedfellows, it’s at least an instance of unusual ones. But, politically, it is a low-risk move for Vitter that may pay off substantially in terms of both electability and power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective. Perhaps it will work out this way. However, Giuliani is so out of touch with Southern values that Vitter will likely keep his conservative base away from the polls. If 5-7% don't vote, this allows the Dems a big opportunity -especially if Rudy either doesn't get nominated, or loses in 11/08. Vitter wouldn't be doing this if he had to run in '08. Perhaps it will work out by '10; but if a center left Dem opposes him, I think he'll have a rough ride. In any event this confirms my opinion of Vitter as a lightweight opportunist. Now Louisiana has 2 senators in that category.