Thompson To Confront Giuliani On New York, Conservatism

Ex-Sen. Fred Thompson's campaign released excerpts of a speech he'll deliver night before New York's Conservative Party leaders in Manhattan.

"Some think the way to beat the Democrats in November is to be more like them. I could not disagree more. I believe that conservatives beat liberals only when we challenge their outdated positions, not embrace them.

"This is not a time for philosophical flexibility, it is a time to stand up for what we believe in. I spent eight years in Washington fighting for smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation, and conservative judges. With me, what you see is what you get. I was a proud conservative yesterday, I remain one today, and I will be one tomorrow. Together we can carry the conservative banner all the way to the White House and I am asking for your help."

He's not naming names -- but it's not hard, given the context of his speech and his audience -- the Conservative Party once opposed Rudy Giuliani's mayoral candidacy (although its leaders later came to be supporters) -- the speech suggests that Thompson will begin to turn his attention to the national frontrunner.

The argument will probably begin with Giuliani's own words -- his appeals to Democrats and liberals, his friendliness with the Clinton administration (except for that line item veto challenge), his praise for Bill Clinton himself, his 1994 endorsement of Mario Cuomo over George Pataki (over tax cuts)... his unwillingness, in the late 1980s, to associate himself with Ronald Reagan, his disdain for Barry Goldwater, his alleged 1972 vote for George McGovern.. ... you get the idea.

The big thump here is loyalty: Thompson will argue that Giuliani hasn't been loyal to Republican causes and has instead been more than willing to throw them under the bus when it suited his political needs. And by extension, Giuliani will jettison his conservative supporters the moment he's elected president. Or the moment it suits him.

The Giuliani counter-argument is out there: when he speaks, Republicans hear a conservative. He reformed welfare, he cut crime, he cut taxes (though not as many as he might want you to believe), he restored a sense of civic pride to the city, etc.

It's not clear when or whether Thompson will begin to talk about Giuliani by name.