Rudy Giuliani, who leads most national GOP polls, had the most support at the outset. But several who initially favored the former New York mayor acknowledged that they were torn between admiration for the leadership skills he displayed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and concern about his support of abortion and views on gay marriage [bold mine-DL].
The group, as a whole, knew far less about Fred Thompson, who only entered the race in September. “He’s not comfortable in his role yet,” said June Beninghove, 67, a retired secretary, who nonetheless said she favored the former Tennessee senator.
Others cited his personal characteristics, calling him conservative and fatherly and, in one case, “more like [the late President Ronald] Reagan.”
But when the group was asked toward the end of the evening to choose between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Thompson, most – including several initial Giuliani backers – raised their hands for Mr. Thompson, despite uncertainty about him and his views. ~Carl Leudbsdorf
This is just from one small gathering in suburban Virginia, but this struck me as a slightly strange development (which also happily confirms my increasingly implausible prediction of a Thompson nomination). What could persuade people who don’t know much about Thompson to change their support from Giuliani to Thompson in the course of an evening? Evidently, Giuliani’s social liberalism, which more than a few have been saying doesn’t really matter this time, really is killing him with these voters. However, it is worth noting that nobody was completely put off by Giuliani’s views, saying that they would all vote for the eventual GOP nominee. Because of his religion, the support for Romney was pretty shaky, but everyone at the gathering agreed that Romney as nominee was still preferable to a Democrat:
Being a Democrat “is worse than being a Mormon,” Mr. Armstrong said. “There’s Mormons, and there’s insects, and there’s Democrats,” he added, extending his arm and then lowering it to indicate his decreasing regard for each group.
That isn’t really a ringing endorsement for Mormons, but it’s what Romney has to face out there. This man reminds me of a history lecturer we had back in undergrad days who explained the Great Chain of Being to us, and at the bottom of the Chain he placed North Carolina Tarheel fans (he was also a Virginian).
It should also be noted that this was in the northern Glen Allen suburb of Richmond, which I believe is pretty solid GOP country. I assume NOVA Republicans would have significantly different preferences.