GOP Hopefuls Make 'Conservative' Choices Friday, three Republican hopefuls spoke to the National Rifle Association. Earlier, at least one frontrunner skipped a debate put on by Christian conservatives. John Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, weighs in on the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
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GOP Hopefuls Make 'Conservative' Choices

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GOP Hopefuls Make 'Conservative' Choices

GOP Hopefuls Make 'Conservative' Choices

GOP Hopefuls Make 'Conservative' Choices

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/14620495/14620477" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Friday, three Republican hopefuls spoke to the National Rifle Association. Earlier, at least one frontrunner skipped a debate put on by Christian conservatives. John Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, weighs in on the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani spoke to the National Rifle Association on Friday and told them he believes that the right to bear arms is equal to the right of free speech.

SIMON: After all, the second amendment is a freedom that is every bit as important as the other freedoms in the first 10 amendments.

SIMON: Professor, thanks very much for being with us.

D: Thank you.

SIMON: Was there any chance that he would be endorsed by the NRA?

D: It's not very likely that he would be their first or even second choice. The key thing for Giuliani is to avoid the active opposition of the NRA. They might not like him, but he's trying in this primary season to avoid being their number one target.

SIMON: Interesting. I want to ask you about a forum earlier this week. It was called the Value Voters debate that was reportedly put together by religious conservatives. A lot of Republican frontrunners chose not to appear. Why is that?

D: And consequently, the candidates probably reasoned that they don't have to appeal to the religious organizations provided that they are - win a lot of support from religious voters.

SIMON: Is that why there hasn't been the backlash against him among the Republican base that people were predicting a few months ago?

D: The other great advantage he has is electability. Polls indicate that he's very competitive against Hillary Clinton. And a lot of Republicans are willing to accept somebody like Giuliani if he can beat Hillary Clinton.

SIMON: So what does this say about, at least, and we have to, obviously, remind ourselves nobody's cast a single vote yet. But what does this say about some of decision-making process that the Republican base is going through right now?

D: And consequently, a lot of Republican voters who would otherwise be very emphatic about ideological purity are now willing to entertain the idea of ideological flexibility.

SIMON: John Pitney, professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. Thanks very much for being with us.

D: Thank you.

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