From NBC/National Journal's Matthew E. Berger
Pat Robertson, the influential founder of the Christian Coalition, announced his support for Giuliani in Washington Wednesday. The endorsement is a huge boon for the former New York mayor as he tries to right himself with social conservative voters opposed to his views on abortion and gay rights. "With all the crises that confront our nation and the world, we need a leader with a bold vision who is not afraid to tackle the challenges ahead," Robertson said at a Washington press conference. He called Giuliani "a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans."
Robertson said he believed the threat of Islamic terrorists was the "overriding issue" for the next election, as well cutting government waste and the selection of social conservatives for federal courts. He said Giuliani had "proven time and time again that he is a social conservative."
Robertson ran for president in 1988, and came in second in Iowa, behind George H.W. Bush. He could help Giuliani reach out to some social conservatives, as well as inoculate Giuliani against those concerned about his candidacy and considering a third-party challenger. "Having him aboard gives us a great deal of confidence," Giuliani said. "He has tremendous insights into what the main issues are and how they can be dealt with, his advice is invaluable and his friendship even more invaluable."
Robertson represents a group that largely disagrees with Giuliani on abortion rights. Robertson said he and Giuliani did not speak directly about Roe v. Wade, but said Giuliani's team "has assured the American people that his judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia."
The endorsement comes on the same day as Sen. Sam Brownback endorsed McCain, and two days after conservative godfather Paul Weyrich backed Romney. Robertson said his endorsement wasn't a calculated decision to find someone who is electable. "I just believe that I needed to make a statement," said Robertson, who still has a presence on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "I am speaking for myself that in my opinion, as what would be considered a leader of the evangelicals, that Rudy Giuliani without question is an acceptable candidate because of the reasons I stated."
Robertson has made controversial statements in recent years about Muslims, as well as suggesting in 2006 that then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke as retribution from God for granting land to the Palestinians.
"Of course, there are always some disagreements," Giuliani said, while not speaking directly about Robertson's controversial statements. "And I think it's a healthy thing in the Republican Party that we have a primary that different people support different candidates. And then ultimately the Republicans will make the decision."
Giuliani also said Wednesday that he had asked two Republican lawmakers -- Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) -- to introduce legislation that would prohibit states from issuing drivers' licenses or similar identification cards to illegal immigrants.