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Social conservative Bauer drops out of GOP race

WASHINGTON (BP)–Gary Bauer, who made pro-life and pro-family advocacy key ingredients of his campaign, dropped out of the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination after failing to gain enough support even from social conservatives.

Bauer announced his decision only three days after finishing fifth in the New Hampshire primary, with only 1 percent of the vote. The week before, he took fourth in the Iowa caucuses, with 9 percent of the total. In both, Bauer finished behind Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, two other candidates vying for support from pro-life, conservative voters.

A domestic policy adviser in the Reagan administration, Bauer left his post as president of the Washington-based Family Research Council to seek the GOP nomination. He is unlikely to return to FRC, a pro-family organization he headed for 10 years, or work for any other nonprofit lobbying group, according to comments he made on CNN and a report in The Washington Post. FRC had no comment on Bauer’s future with the organization, a spokesperson told Baptist Press Feb. 7.

Bauer is a former Southern Baptist who received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown College, a Kentucky Baptist school.

In announcing Feb. 4 his decision to exit the race, Bauer said in a written statement he would continue to fight for “a renewed respect for life, a China policy rooted in our American ideals and not appeasement, and a government that is friendly to marriage and the family.”

Bauer entered the race because he believes “our American destiny is in jeopardy,” he said. The threat to this country comes from the legalization of abortion, a policy toward China that ranks trade above human rights and a weakening of the family that may include judges redefining “marriage to permit men to marry men and women to marry women,” he said.

While Bauer’s candidacy was a long shot from the beginning, it may have received a mortal blow even with some of his core constituency, conservative Christians, in late September. In a Washington news conference called to refute rumors of adultery, Bauer was evasive in responding to some questions from reporters. When asked repeatedly about whether campaign staff members had expressed concern to him about his behavior with a female staffer, he avoided direct answers.

Though no former campaign workers expressed publicly any belief Bauer was guilty of adultery, former senior staff members told The Post they had confronted the candidate about his habit of spending hours behind closed doors alone with a young, female staffer and traveling alone with her. When Bauer failed to heed their warnings, they left the campaign. At least seven other Bauer campaign workers also departed, according to news reports.

Bauer’s departure further narrowed what had been a large GOP field. Others who previously exited include former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Cabinet secretary Elizabeth Dole and Sen. Orrin Hatch.

While Forbes and Keyes remain in the race, the Republican race appears to be a two-candidate battle between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Bush won the Iowa caucuses, but McCain defeated him in New Hampshire by the surprisingly large margin of 19 percent.

On the Democratic side, Vice President Al Gore won in both Iowa and New Hampshire over former Sen. Bill Bradley.