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Republican rivals focus on farm crisis

By DAVID YEPSEN/DES MOINES REGISTER

August 12, 1999
Web posted at: 12:09 p.m. EDT (1609 GMT)

AMES, Iowa (DES MOINES REGISTER) -- Republican presidential candidates turned Wednesday into something of a "Farm Day" in Iowa as they crisscrossed the state promising help for Iowa's largest and most economically troubled industry.

Eight of the 10 Republicans running for the White House were scheduled to be in Iowa Wednesday as they scurried for last-minute votes in Saturday's GOP straw poll in Ames.

They were joined by Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley, who were perhaps mindful of the 500 or so reporters expected in Iowa for the mock election in Ames.

Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander called on the federal government to double the amount of money it spends on agricultural research - to about $400 million.

"That would be enough to help create new products and put dollars in the pockets of farmers," Alexander said after a tour of Iowa State University's agriculture research labs in Ames.

He said Congress has spent too much time on short-term solutions to the farm crisis when long-term answers are needed.

Former Cabinet secretary Elizabeth Dole also focused on agriculture during her speech to Farmland Insurance employees in Des Moines. She called for the elimination of capital-gains taxes on the first $500,000 in profits from the sale of farm homes and land, as is the case for city and suburban homeowners.

Dole also said the threatened presidential veto of a tax bill recently passed by Congress would hurt farmers because it contains several farm-friendly provisions.

Former Vice President Dan Quayle, meanwhile, criticized the Clinton-Gore administration's record on farm issues.

"Al Gore has done nothing to halt Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's tight-money policies that are strangling American agriculture,"

Quayle said in a statement released by his campaign while he visited Boone and Iowa Falls. "Al Gore has made no serious attempt to level the playing field for U.S. agriculture exports, which have fallen 16 percent in the last three years. And Al Gore has opposed every serious proposal to provide American farmers with meaningful tax relief."

Quayle said his Indiana background gives him a special understanding of the problems facing rural America.

Former commentator Pat Buchanan was also speaking about agriculture Wednesday, visiting a hog farm near Adel.

"The communist Chinese basically don't let American pork into their market," he said in an interview. "They cut it by 100,000 tons.

On our exports to them, they put 40 percent tariffs on our agricultural exports, and we give them carte blanche to dump anything and everything into our market so they've got a $58 billion trade surplus at our expense."

Publisher Steve Forbes gave his stump speech Wednesday to a group of senior citizens on Des Moines' east side, but he also made special mention of the problems facing rural America.

He placed the most blame on the Federal Reserve Board for raising interest rates.

"It's as if you went to a doctor and the doctor said, "You are in good health. In fact, you are so healthy we have to make you sick," " Forbes said. "In medicine, you get sued for malpractice for that. In Washington, they put you on the Federal Reserve Board."

Among the Republicans, only Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain were not in Iowa Wednesday. Alan Keyes planned to visit Vinton, Independence and Manchester, while Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was slated to be in Council Bluffs, Ottumwa and Osceola. Activist Gary Bauer also campaigned in Des Moines.

While agriculture was the message, the mission was the straw poll for the candidates. At each event, aides to the candidates scurried around crowds signing up people to show up in Ames for the $25-per-vote state party fund-raiser.

Edna King, a Farmland employee from Des Moines who watched Dole speak, said she plans to attend the straw poll with her husband but hasn"t yet narrowed her choice beyond Dole, Bush or Forbes.

"We"re going to make a whole date out of it," said King, wearing a Dole sticker. "I like Elizabeth a lot, but I"m just not sure."

Click here for more Iowa straw poll coverage from the Des Moines Register.


IOWA STRAW POLL

Despite GOP focus, Democrats campaign in Iowa (8-11-99)

The Iowa straw poll never ceases to surprise (8-11-99)

Straw poll attracts horde of journalists (8-11-99)

Candidates take swipes at Bush (8-11-99)

GOP presidential hopefuls take aim at Iowa (8-9-99)


CAST CALL

Who's in, who's out in presidential sweepstakes


BIOS

Lamar Alexander
Gary Bauer
Pat Buchanan
George W. Bush
Elizabeth Dole
Steve Forbes
Orrin Hatch
Alan Keyes
John McCain
Dan Quayle


FOLLOW THE MONEY

How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.


VIDEO

CNN's Bruce Morton looks at the politics and the parties planned for Iowa (8-11-99) video

Real: 28K | 80K Windows Media: 28K | 80K


Small town campaigning assuming larger role (08-10-99) video

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MESSAGE BOARD

Iowa straw poll



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