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Erbe Blog: Honesty With 'Values Voters' Goes Only So Far

Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." But the Book of Revelation is apparently higher on the bestseller list for values voters.

Republican hopeful and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani wowed the faithful with his honesty at their Washington, D.C., Values Voters summit this past weekend.

"Isn't it better that I tell you what I really believe, instead of pretending to change all of my positions to fit the prevailing winds?" America's mayor asked. This was a not-so-veiled jab at opponent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who used to support abortion rights and now does not.

Giuliani talked openly about his Roman Catholic faith and his parochial school education, and admitted to this crowd of fans of in-your-face proselytizing that he is more private about his faith because of the way he was raised.

His honesty brought them to their feet and wooed their spirits.

But it failed to attract their votes in a dubiously executed and apparently meaningless straw poll of those in attendance at the conference and others who signed up to vote online. Despite his honesty and openness on issues on which the faithful's faithful disagree with him, Giuliani came in eighth in a field of nine--not exactly a coveted spot in a presidential field.

Yet not all hope is lost. Christian Broadcasting reporter and faith maven David Brody wrote in his blog: "The case was compelling and if Giuliani keeps making speeches like this, he has a good shot to gather enough social conservatives to his side to win the nomination."

Meanwhile Mitt Romney, who has flip-flopped on so many so-called values issues that it's hard to keep track of where he stands, won the online portion of the straw poll. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the in-person vote. As the starkly different straw poll results for Giuliani and Romney suggest, honesty seems to be less of a factor with values voters than partisanship. What kind of value is that?

By Bonnie Erbe