[AllPolitics - RNC '96 Facts]


(12 Electoral Votes; 37 Delegates)

Chair: Joseph D. Malone
1992 Statewide Vote for President: Clinton 48%, Bush 29%, Perot 23%
Accommodations: Humphrey's Half Moon Inn: (619) 224-3411

The one Massachusetts Republican most in the spotlight this year is Gov. William F. Weld. Not only is the second-term governor involved in a high-profile Senate contest with two-term Democratic Sen. John Kerry, but he is also a leading spokesman for the GOP's abortion-rights wing.

At one time, it was suggested that he might be a candidate for the presidential nomination or vice presidential slot, and he began the 1996 presidential cycle as a key supporter of the candidacy of California Gov. Pete Wilson, who nonetheless dropped out early.

Weld's profile outside his home state is largely attributable to his comparative centrism on social issues. At the 1992 Republican convention in Houston, Weld delivered a strong speech favoring abortion rights. "I happen to think that individual freedom should extend to a woman's right to choose," he said. "I want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom."

With many wondering in recent weeks whether history would repeat itself at this year's convention, Weld offered a range of options that would satisfy him: removing the abortion plank from the GOP platform; keeping the current anti-abortion rights language but offering equal space to abortion rights language in the same section of the platform; or instituting a platform that would take no real position on the abortion issue and declare abortion an individual decision.

Weld will be attending the convention, but not as chairman of his state's delegation. He ceded that role to state Treasurer Joseph D. Malone, who shares Weld's views on abortion rights.

Of course, not everyone in the Bay State delegation is willing to follow Weld on this issue. Trouble arose in the spring, when Weld questioned the right of some of the anti-abortion delegates to attend the convention, asking whether they would support Bob Dole, as required under state law.

Dole had won the March 5 Massachusetts primary and thus all 37 delegates, capturing 48 percent of the vote to Patrick J. Buchanan's 25 percent and Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes Jr.'s 14 percent.

The delegate dispute was dismissed after the challenged delegates said they would support Dole and after party leaders chose seven at-large delegates more in line with Weld's views. The governor's office now says the abortion rights faction maintains a narrow majority within the state delegation to the convention.

Also in the delegation is second-term Rep. Peter G. Torkildsen, who is in a tough rematch race in his North Shore-based 6th District with Democrat John F. Tierney. In an effort to appeal to his moderate district, Torkildsen has been working to distance himself from many of the positions taken by the House leadership, and is planning to stand by Weld on the abortion issue.

Massachusetts' other Republican congressman, Peter I. Blute, is skipping the convention, choosing instead to remain in his district with his constituents and his family.

Among the delegates are Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci and Marilyn Scola, state director of the Christian Coalition.

By Deborah Kalb
CQ Staff Writer

Copyright © 1996, Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved

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