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Bauer announces candidacy, focuses on abortion as issue

WASHINGTON (BP)–Pro-family leader Gary Bauer has announced his candidacy for president, thereby increasing the likelihood those seeking the 2000 Republican Party nomination will have to discuss issues of utmost importance to social conservatives.
Bauer’s entrance adds to an expanding field of Republicans, while the party awaits an announcement from Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the front-runner in the polls, about his intentions. Meanwhile, Vice President Al Gore remains a heavy favorite for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Bauer made his candidacy official Jan. 31 in an interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press.” Earlier in the month, Bauer took a leave of absence from the Family Research Council, a Washington-based pro-family organization he had been president of for 10 years, in a move toward becoming a candidate.
In an interview with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, Tim Russert, Bauer earnestly tackled an issue some Republican leaders have signaled a desire to downplay: abortion.
Calling the “sanctity-of-human-life issue” more significant than “typical American politics,” Bauer said his goal would be to protect all unborn children.
“As a starting point, I would begin with a ban at the second and third trimester, but I also would like to send up legislation that made it clear that unborn children are persons under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution,” Bauer said, according to a transcript on NBC’s Internet site.
When Russert asked him if that meant a ban on abortion even in cases of pregnancy from rape or incest, Bauer said these are “hard cases, obviously, but I believe you don’t punish the innocent human child in those hard cases.”
“I believe the party of Lincoln and Reagan, the party that was founded arguing about human rights, can’t go south on this issue, can’t run for the tall grass,” he said.
On the program, Bauer endorsed a flat income tax at a rate of 16 percent.
A domestic policy adviser during the Reagan administration, Bauer also spoke against homosexual rights and the tax penalty on married couples during his FRC tenure.
Bauer revealed his plans nearly a month after Sen. John Ashcroft, R.-Mo., a fellow evangelical Christian, announced he would not seek the nomination. The announcement by Ashcroft, also a pro-life conservative, did not affect his decision, Bauer has said.
Bush, son of former President George Bush, has yet to announce whether he will seek the presidency next year. Elizabeth Dole, wife of 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole, also has not made an announcement about her possible candidacy, although she recently left her position as head of Red Cross.
Others who have announced their candidacies or are expected to soon are former Vice President Dan Quayle, 1996 candidate Steve Forbes, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander and Rep. John Kasich of Ohio.
In varying degrees, all these candidates and potential candidates have voiced opposition to abortion, but, with the possible exception of Forbes, none has expressed a willingness to campaign on the issue as openly as Bauer.
In a poll of Republicans by Time magazine Jan. 20-21, Bush led with 42 percent, while Dole was next at 21 percent.
One year before primary season, Gore, who has served at President Clinton’s side the last six years, would appear to be a sure thing for the Democratic nomination. Richard Gephardt, the House of Representatives minority leader, was once considered Gore’s main competition, but news reports Feb. 2 said the Missouri congressman would disclose this week his decision not to run.
Bill Bradley, a former senator from New Jersey, has announced he will challenge Gore and has already campaigned in New Hampshire. A recent poll shows Gore with a lead over Bradley of 34 to 14 percent among likely primary voters in the state, The Washington Post reported Feb. 1.
In the wake of Bauer’s decision to take a leave of absence from Family Research Council, it was announced Chuck Donovan, the executive vice president, would direct the organization and syndicated radio-show personality Janet Parshall would be its media spokesperson.