GOP: Party Whittles Down Abortion Plank, Bush Skips Meeting
Although California Republicans cut their party platform by 90% during their "surprisingly harmonious three-day convention" that ended Sunday, they retained a controversial abortion plank that has raised the ire of some moderate state GOP members, the Associated Press reports. Conceding to the moderate party members, Republicans trimmed their seven-point antiabortion plank to a brief statement of "support for the protection of innocent human life at every stage, from the pre-born to the elderly, the infirm and the disabled." Some moderates, however, were not appeased by the move and said the party's strong opposition to abortion is "out of step with most California Republicans." Former Assemblyman Brooks Firestone said the "platform does not represent the entire Republican Party," adding, "We wanted a statement of general principles on which all Republicans can agree, that would let individual candidates take stands on policy issues." He called the new platform "too detailed and too conservative."
While the platform debate was "low-keyed and conciliatory," the "closest thing to a public rift" came in a debate among three U.S. Senate hopefuls -- Rep. Tom Campbell, state Sen. Ray Haynes and San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn. Campbell emphasized his differences with incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), while Haynes and Horn attacked Campbell as being "too liberal" (Willis, Associated Press, 2/7). Throughout the convention, conservatives have thrown their support to Horn and Haynes, who oppose abortion rights, rather than to Campbell, an abortion-rights supporter. However, there is a "dawning recognition that after embarrassing losses at the polls, the party must marshal all its resources -- moderate and conservative -- if Republicans are to have any hope of recapturing the state that launched Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan." In accordance, Campbell has chosen to focus on "areas in which he and the right wing agree: cutting taxes, slicing government spending, easing the federal government's grip on people's lives" (Krikorian/Pyle, Los Angeles Times, 2/6).
While GOP presidential hopefuls Steve Forbes, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Alan Keyes each made an appearance at the state convention, Texas Gov. George W. Bush skipped "the gathering for the third straight time," the Associated Press reports. Bush's brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) spoke on his behalf. Gary Bauer, who dropped out of the race last week, also declined an invitation. While both the GOP and Bush campaign officials said there "is no bad blood between them," their relations "have been rocky in the last year." Last June, the party "delivered a slap to Bush," when it voted to alter the GOP presidential primary from "winner-take-all" to a free-for-all format in which multiple candidates would win delegates to the nominating convention, instead of just one candidate. The move was blocked by the California Legislature. In addition, the convention has been a "perennial battlegrounds for abortion fights," and some speculate that Bush backed out of the convention rather than be associated with the fray. One GOP leader said Bush avoided the convention to "make sure the convention headlines are nonacrimonious." He added, "There's a dynamic at play from the Bush campaign where they don't want to see controversy at the convention, they don't want to see abortion stuff in the papers" (Lindlaw, Associated Press, 2/3).