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Trade, gun laws help distinguish candidates


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.


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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)


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


Who are the GOP straw poll contenders?

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


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


CNN's Bruce Morton reports on the comings, goings and speeches of fair time (8-12-99) video

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

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

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

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Friday, August 13, 1999

Iowa straw poll briefs:

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