- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson went to the heart of Rudolph W. Giuliani country yesterday and told New York conservatives to reject liberal candidates posing as Republicans.

“Some think the way to beat the Democrats in November is to be more like them. I could not disagree more,” Mr. Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, told the Conservative Party of New York, in excerpts provided beforehand.

“I believe that conservatives beat liberals only when we challenge their outdated positions, not embrace them.”

His speech comes a few weeks after another Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, began a call for Republicans to renew themselves as the conservative party. Taken together, they constitute the start of a collective, if uncoordinated, effort to take on Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is pro-choice, has fought gun owners and was considered a friend of homosexual rights advocates.

Mr. Thompson said he distinguishes himself by being a consistent conservative on “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 said.

In the face of criticism, Mr. Giuliani has argued his stint as mayor in Democrat-heavy New York proved that he could govern as a conservative in the toughest of arenas.

Yesterday, he deployed several of his former deputy mayors to help make his case, with one, Joe Lhota, saying Mr. Giuliani’s eight years in office “proved that fiscally conservative policies of cutting taxes, ending wasteful government spending and stimulating private-sector job growth are achievable, even when facing overwhelming obstacles.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Thompson made it clear that he was talking specifically about Mr. Giuliani in his criticism.

“I don’t think the mayor has ever claimed to be a conservative,” the former senator said. “I think it’s just a philosophical difference on how best to win next year. Some people think that moving more toward them, in some respects, is the way to do that, to take that middle ground. I think that another pattern that would be more successful would be being strong for conservative principles.”

Despite a claim by Mr. Romney, former Massachusetts governor, that he speaks for the Republican wing of the Republican Party, Mr. Thompson said he is the only tried-and-true conservative in the race.

“I’m the consistent conservative that’s been out there for eight years on the national level supporting tax increases, balancing the budget, welfare reform,” he said.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto broke in to say, “tax cuts,” and with a laugh, Mr. Thompson said, “yes, opposing tax increases.”