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Bauer officially jumps into 2000 race

April 21, 1999
Web posted at: 12:02 p.m. EDT (1602 GMT)

NEWPORT, Kentucky (AllPolitics, April 21) -- Conservative activist Gary Bauer declared his official candidacy Wednesday in the 2000 horse race for the Republican presidential nomination, saying he wants his pro-family agenda to help eliminate the U.S. "virtue deficit."

Throwing out much of his prepared remarks, Bauer concentrated his words instead on the shootings Tuesday at a suburban Denver high school where 15 people were killed and 24 injured in America's worst instance of school violence.

"American children are dead. Not in Kosovo, but in Colorado," Bauer said. Such a tragedy forces Americans to ask "ourselves whether or not America can still be a shining city on a hill or if we are going to continue to sink into the violence and despair."

Bauer said it was this kind of event that brought him into politics because he wants a say in what direction the country was going: "In spite of the Dow Jones industrial average over 10,000, a growing economy, in spite of all those things to our credit, you and I know that there is something wrong in America."

"This country can be better than it is today, and I intend to make it better," Bauer, 52, pledged Wednesday, kicking off his long-shot White House bid. He made the announcement in his hometown of Newport, Kentucky at the Newport High School where he graduated in 1964.

Despite a large GOP field that already includes several social conservatives, Bauer believes he can set his candidacy apart through his blue-collar roots, tax cut plan and especially his message of moral values.

Decrying what he called a "culture of death" that has emerged in American, Bauer pointed to abortion as its strongest symbol. Despite criticism from some Republicans who say the abortion issue has proved too divisive for the party, Bauer said: "I am not going to go away from this issue or ignore it."

"Twenty-six years ago the highest court in this land did an incredible thing. They issued a Supreme Court decision that really boils down to one simple and profoundly evil idea: They said that our unborn children have no rights that the rest of us are bound to respect," Bauer said. "And when they made that decision they unleashed on America an unbelievable event that has undermined who we are and what we believe."

Bauer also advocates replacing the current tax code with a 16-percent flat tax. He called the plan a "pro-growth, pro-pocketbook, pro-family policy."

"I believe America can be a special place, Bauer said, one "where our schools are safe, where virtue counts; A country where motherhood and fatherhood is revered as much as any career; Where criminals are behind bars, not law-abiding, decent American families.

"These are the things I am about. These are the values I think are important. This is the good fight I am ready to wage with all my heart and soul," the presidential candidate said.

Later Wednesday Bauer will travel to Iowa for a campaign swing through the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Thursday he will continue on to New Hampshire, the site of the nation's first presidential primary.

Bauer faces a large Republican field vying for the 2000 nomination. Early surveys have already placed Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Red Cross president Elizabeth Dole at the front of that pack, though neither have yet to formally declare their candidacy.

Also in the GOP pool are several other social conservatives who will be wrestling for the same Christian-right voter base, including Dan Quayle and Pat Buchanan.

According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, as required by law, Bauer's campaign is in the black, though barely. At the end the first quarter of 1999 he had $490,000 in cash and debts of $425,000.

The son of a janitor, Bauer is a former domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

He is currently on a leave of absence from the Family Research Council, a non-profit organization that promotes conservative social issues that he has headed since 1988. He's also taken a leave from his top job at the multi-candidate political action committee, the Campaign for Working Families, which raised roughly $7 million for conservative candidates in 1998.

Bauer received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1973. He and his wife, Carol, live in Virginia with their three children, Elyse, Sarah and Zachary.


RELATED STORIES

Conservative presidential hopefuls slam Gov. Bush (1-22-99)

Gary Bauer to explore 2000 GOP presidential bid (1-4-99)

Bauer: The G.O.P.'s Troublemaker (TIME, 1-12-98)


CAMPAIGN 2000

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Wednesday, April 21, 1999

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