THE NOTE:Old Friend Trumps New Friend for Rudy

Next on "The 700 Club," Bernie Kerik talks about how his relationship with Jesus -- and his good friend Rudy Giuliani -- helped him overcome federal corruption and tax fraud charges, a fall from grace, and the private sins of a public life . . .

New Rudy was so happy the dimples came out on Wednesday, when he basked in the endorsement glow of Pat Robertson. (And we thought the only 700 Club that former mayor Rudolph Giuliani was familiar with counts the unholy trinity of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth as members.)

But an old friend of Old Rudy returns to the stage Thursday, with the expected indictment of Kerik, per ABC's Richard Esposito. Just when Giuliani, R-N.Y., wants to be looking forward, an old friend (and they're still friends) pulls him back to the uncomfortable past.

This has long been the obstacle that Giuliani has expected to emerge. (Which do you think he'd rather explain away: felony charges against a friend whom he made police commissioner and pushed as a Cabinet secretary, or Robertson's contention that liberal judges are more of a threat than "a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings"? And why is it that only Giuliani seems to face questions like that?)

"Charges could complicate the presidential campaign of Mr. Kerik's friend, patron and former business partner, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, whose mentorship was partly responsible for Mr. Kerik's sharp ascent into prominence," William K. Rashbaum and Russ Buettner write in The New York Times. (Only "partly"?) "Mr. Giuliani has acknowledged that New York City's investigations commissioner, Edward J. Kuriansky, told him that he had been briefed about some of Mr. Kerik's involvement with Interstate before the police appointment."

He can't look to Robertson for help with this one. But their endorsement appearance yesterday amounted to one of the odder moments of the presidential campaign -- sealing nothing so much as continued disorder in the GOP field.

The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick and Michael Cooper nominate Giuliani and Robertson for "strangest bedfellows of 2008." "It was the latest manifestation of the deep divide in the Christian conservative movement over how to balance politics and principle in the coming era after President Bush, who once so deftly brought it all together," they write.

"Religious conservative leaders are in disarray over the 2008 Republican field as deep divisions contribute to an unusually wide-open GOP race for the presidential nomination," per ABC News. "Faced with a Mormon from Massachusetts, a twice-divorced former New York mayor who backs abortion and gay rights, a senator who once called Robertson and the late Rev. Jerry Falwell the 'forces of evil' and a Hollywood actor who rarely goes to church, the once powerful coalition of Christian conservative leaders appears to be splintering."

If evangelicals split their votes among three or four candidates -- Giuliani, as the moderate in the race and the national frontrunner -- wins even if he isn't one of them. What he really fears is the evangelical vote coalescing behind a single candidate, and Robertson's endorsement makes that markedly less likely.

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