Conservatives Fear 'Rudy McRomney'

ByABC News
March 2, 2007, 6:15 PM

March 2, 2007— -- The fight for the right began in earnest Friday as Republican presidential candidates attacked one another before a convention of conservative activists who seemed unsure and unenthusiastic about their three leading contenders.

It all could be summed up by the sticker sported by one businessman in the exhibition hall of the Conservative Political Action Conference, which drew thousands of activists from across the country. "Rudy McRomney," the sticker said, with a red slash crossing out an amalgam of the three GOP presidential front-runners: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Direct mail consultant Michael Centanni's sticker summed up the views held by many at the CPAC.

"The three front-runners are just not viable conservative choices," Centanni said. "I think what we know about the three front-runners is enough really to doom them."

This discontent is not news to their campaigns. Giuliani -- a supporter of gay and abortion rights, as well as gun control -- tried to address this divide head-on when he spoke at the conference Friday afternoon.

"Ronald Reagan used to say, 'My 80 percent ally is not my 20 percent enemy,'" Giuliani said, invoking a conservative icon whom he uncharacteristically mentioned today more than he did 9/11. "You and I have a lot of common beliefs that are the same and we have some that are different. You just described your relationship, I think, with your husband, your wife, your children. We don't all agree on everything. I don't agree with myself on everything."

But the incongruity of Giuliani's positions was only underlined by the speaker who preceded him on the dais, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. LaPierre lashed out at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support of gun control, but he might as well have been attacking Giuliani, who holds many of the same positions as his mayoral successor.

"He wants to impose New York City gun bans on you," LaPierre cried.