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Christian right leader writes off Giuliani

Story Highlights

• Focus on the Family's James Dobson says he'll never vote for Giuliani
• Republican candidate has put off conservatives with his position on abortion
• If Giuliani is nominated, Dobson says he may not vote for anyone
• Dobson, heard on more than 1,000 radio stations, endorsed Bush in 2004
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Religious conservative leader James Dobson will sit out the 2008 presidential election if former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the Republican presidential nominee, he wrote Thursday in an online column.

In a piece published on the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily, Dobson wrote that Giuliani's support for abortion rights and civil unions for homosexuals, as well as the former mayor's two divorces, were a deal-breaker for him.

"I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision," he wrote.

"If given a Hobson's -- Dobson's? -- choice between him and Senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran -- or if worse comes to worst, not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else."

Dobson, 71, is the founder and chairman of Colorado-based Focus on the Family, but said he was writing as "a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party."

Dobson's daily radio broadcast can be heard on more than 1,000 radio stations and is listened to by 3.4 million listeners each week, according to Nima Reza, a spokesman for Focus on the Family.

He endorsed President Bush in 2004, the first time he endorsed a presidential candidate.

Dobson attacked Giuliani for publicly saying he hates abortion but supports a woman's right to have one. Giuliani had been criticized for being ambiguous on his abortion views, but firmly stated last week that he supports abortion rights.

"Is Rudy Giuliani presidential timber? I think not," Dobson wrote. "Can we really trust a chief executive who waffles and feigns support for policies that run contrary to his alleged beliefs? Of greater concern is how he would function in office. Will we learn after it is too late just what the former mayor really thinks? What we know about him already is troubling enough."

Maria Comella, a Giuliani spokeswoman, said that he is aware that his views on abortion may cost him some votes, but that he respects those who disagree with him.

"From the beginning, Mayor Giuliani has been straightforward on where he stands on the issue," Comella said. "It's a sign of leadership to stand by your views in the face of political expediency."

As for Giuliani's three marriages, Dobson wrote that there are "moral concerns about Giuliani's candidacy that conservatives should find troubling."

"Rudy wanted conservatives to believe he had undergone some kind of an election-eve conversion, more or less," Dobson wrote. "Then the contradictions began catching up with him, which often happens to those who play games with words. No, this leopard has not changed his spots."

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James Dobson, conservative chairman of religious group Focus on the Family, said he will never vote for Rudy Giuliani.

CORRECTION

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the audience for Dr. Dobson's radio broadcast. Dr. Dobson is heard by 3.4 million weekly listeners in the U.S. and over 1,000 stations each week, according to Nima Reza, a spokesman for Focus on the Family.

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