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Des Moines Register: Keyes draws large crowds in Iowa

By Arthur Kane/Des Moines Register

January 22, 2000
Web posted at: 4:02 p.m. EST (2102 GMT)

Des Moines Register SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (Des Moines Register) - Conservative commentator Alan Keyes is drawing large crowds across Iowa this week, which his supporters hope will translate into a strong showing at Monday's caucuses.

"He's by far the most articulate spokesman for my conservative beliefs," said Tom Nichols, a Klemme farmer and devoted Keyes supporter at an event for the candidate in Mason City Thursday.

Keyes campaign manager Dan Godzich said the crowds have been growing as Keyes gets more exposure through such things as the recent candidate debates. Godzich says a victory Monday night doesn't necessarily mean first place.

"I'd be happy with third" or higher, he said.

There is a major battle shaping up for third place in the GOP caucuses. Most polls show Texas Gov. George W. Bush in first place, followed by publisher Steve Forbes. Keyes, conservative activist Gary Bauer and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have been locked in a tie for third.

Traditionally, only the top three candidates in Iowa manage to run viable campaigns in New Hampshire the following week. McCain has largely skipped Iowa, focusing his resources on New Hampshire.

Keyes' crowds this week have rivaled and in some cases exceeded those enjoyed by Bush and Forbes. Keyes, a former United Nations official, also has launched an extensive advertising campaign, especially in conservative areas of the state.

Keyes is opposed to abortion rights, he is anti-gun control and he wants to abolish the income tax in favor of a national sales tax. He says all the problems in the United States can be solved with moral leadership.

"Our rights come from God, and must be exercised with the respect and existence of God," he told about 100 people at a rally here Friday.

At times this week, his rhetoric has bordered on harsh.

"The income tax is a slave tax," Keyes told about 300 people in Mason City Thursday. "It surrenders our most important freedom," our money.

While many people leave his events impressed with Keyes' dynamic speaking skills, a few maintain the speeches lack specifics.

"I'm not sure I heard an answer to the problems," said Bob Drenten, a Sioux City pastor trying to decide between Keyes and Forbes.

Keyes spent Monday, Thursday and Friday in Iowa and will attend weekend events in Dubuque, Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

ELECTION 2000

With two days before caucuses, presidential candidates make final lap of Iowa (1-22-99)

Candidates in final push before Monday's Iowa caucus (1-21-99)

Presidential hopefuls stump Iowa with lowered expectations (1-20-99)

Bush, McCain continue to snipe over tax cuts, but is anybody listening? (1-19-99)

Bush, McCain battle in N.H. as other candidates search for Iowa votes (1-18-99)

Candidates battle over Confederate flag ahead of S.C. protest (1-17-99)

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