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It's been brutal watching Rudy try to finesse the issue, and since he's not going to run as pro-choice and anti-Roe, maybe this is as good a strategy as any:

After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.

I doubt that he can win the nomination like this, but it's not entirely out of the question, particularly in a frontloaded primary season where his weaker rivals may not have time to accept defeat, drop out, and allow the anti-Rudy vote to coalesce around a single candidate. (Though a brokered convention - the dream of pundits everywhere - might be a more likely outcome in that scenario.)

The larger question is whether winning the GOP nomination as a down-the-line pro-choicer might prove to be a poisoned chalice. Frankly, if Giuliani being the Republican nominee doesn't prompt a third-party run by a pro-life candidate that cuts into his general-election support, then social conservatives ought to retire from politics out of sheer embarrassment.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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