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Rudy, Iowa Christians, a tough sell

From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann
DUBUQUE, IA -- It's no secret that Iowa Christian Alliance president
Steve Scheffler isn't a Rudy fan. But tonight, within spitting distance
of Giuliani's rival GOP candidate Romney, Scheffler
explicitly urged Iowa Christians to oppose Giuliani in the race for the
nomination. "If our party nominates this guy," he told a crowd at a
Dubuque gathering of the ICA, "we will see a bloodbath at the polls
like we've never seen before."

Scheffler went on to slam Giuliani's position on same-sex marriage,
life issues and gun rights. "Rudy Giuliani cannot be elected," he said,
citing the ex-mayor's differences with social conservatives. "We cannot
afford to nominate somebody who's out of touch with the base."

Scheffler made the remarks at a house party here before introducing
Romney, who talked values and faith to Christian activists in Eastern
Iowa. He did not comment on Scheffler's remarks when he took the mic
himself.

The Iowa Christian Alliance has indicated that it will not endorse a candidate in advance of the Iowa caucuses. But it is widely considered to be one of the most influential organizing forces in the state for evangelical conservatives. Campaigns will likely watch the ICA's candidate briefing booklet -- to be released next Wednesday -- with close attention.

If you needed a sign that Giuliani might be in trouble in Iowa, consider this statement from Scheffler; Giuliani "needs to come in fourth place" in Iowa, he said. "Or," he added wistfully, "even worse."