Trade, gun laws help distinguish candidates
By JONATHAN ROOS/DES MOINES REGISTER
August 13, 1999
Web posted at: 12:12 p.m. EDT (1612 GMT)
AMES, Iowa (DES MOINES REGISTER) -- While they agree on broad themes heading into Saturday's straw poll, the Republican presidential candidates also have some clear differences over a handful of issues, including gun control, immigration, trade and abortion.
"There's not a lot of daylight between them," said Dennis Goldford,
a Drake University political science professor.
"They're all talking about family values, sung out of the standard
Republican song book," he said. "They're all talking about character."
Cary Covington, a University of Iowa political scientist, said the
candidates' differences on a few issues, however, reflect strains
of conservatism within the Republican Party.
Social conservatives Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, for example, are
especially strident in their opposition to abortion. Such economic
conservatives as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the only Republican
contender not competing in Saturday's presidential straw poll in
Ames, have a libertarian streak.
Publisher Steve Forbes came on the political scene as an economic
conservative, Covington said. "And he's been doing all kinds of
things to establish his social conservative credentials."
Forbes is one of five GOP candidates who would only appoint federal
judges who are opposed to abortion. Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Keyes and
former Vice President Dan Quayle are the others.
The rest, while also opposed to abortion rights, say they would
not use abortion as a litmus test for judicial nominees.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole exude a "kinder, gentler
conservatism," Covington said. Bush, who has courted Hispanic voters,
"is as close to a big-tent Republican as you've got out there now."
Buchanan is more of a populist, who appeals to workers whose fortunes
have fallen in the global economy.
He would work to repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement
that eased trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and
Canada. Buchanan also has said he would withdraw U.S. troops from
overseas conflicts "that are none of America"s business," and put
some on the border with Mexico. Buchanan also would write "new immigration laws that eliminated illegal immigration cold and cut legal immigration back to 250,000 a year."
Those positions contrast sharply with those of Bush, the son of
former President George Bush and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
At a recent meeting with Hispanics in Iowa, Bush said he wanted
good relations and unfettered trade with Mexico.
While there must be reasonable limits on immigration, he said, the
border with Mexico must be enforced "in a more humane way."
Dole, a former Cabinet secretary and Red Cross president who is
making a strong bid for the support of women in the Iowa caucuses
next winter, has put a little distance between herself and other
Republican candidates on the issue of gun control.
After the Littleton, Colo., school shootings, Dole called for laws
requiring trigger locks and tougher background checks at gun shows.
Other Republican candidates have called for better enforcement of
existing gun laws, not new measures.
"I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but I do not feel
you need an Uzi or an assault weapon to defend your family," Dole
said during one trip to Des Moines. "What use is there for an assault
weapon? For cop-killer bullets?"
But during an Iowa visit, Quayle spoke against more gun control.
"Instead of focusing just on the guns, we need to focus on the behavior
and why does this happen. It doesn't happen just because someone
gets access to a gun," Quayle said, echoing several GOP candidates
in the race.