International Conservative Conference Meets In Washington
Speakers say Republican Party has the ideas to succeed
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 29) -- Republicans aren't lost in the wilderness but merely rebounding from a rough patch, speakers agreed at a GOP conference held Sunday.
"We can regain momentum and communicate despite the elite media by the cheerful, enthusiastic focus on clear, vivid differences," House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the International Conservative Congress.
Other speakers included former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who noted Republicans of late appear "more afflicted with self-doubt than circumstances warrant."
Gingrich outlined several issues for Republicans to push, including IRS reform, opposition to affirmative action, school choice, and enforcement of campaign finance laws, which he accused Democrats of breaking during the 1996 election cycle. (192K wav sound)
President Bill Clinton responded to Gingrich's comments today during a press briefing, saying the speaker was trying to deflect attention away from pending campaign finance reform legislation. (384K wav sound)
The Georgia Republican made no mention of recent efforts to topple him, saying only that because of the "turmoil and confusion of our constitutional system, we had a certain period of confusion trying to communicate what we were doing."
Forbes made a thinly veiled swipe at Gingrich and other GOP leaders, however, criticizing the recent budget deal as too accommodating to the Clinton Administration, while praising "a number of activist Republicans who are coming up in the ranks who I think share our concerns with the abdication by our leadership and also understand the enormous opportunities ... in front of us."
Forbes' crusade for a flat tax may have gotten new momentum out of last week's IRS oversight hearings in the Senate Finance Committee. On Sunday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey said House Republicans would make IRS reform a key priority, and Gingrich told conference participants the legislation would "abolish the IRS as we know it. Period."
Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and widely expected to run for president in 2000, said Republicans "have the right philosophy, the right principles and the right policies. We just have to learn how to go into the public arena, do the job better of advocating those principles."
The conference was sponsored by several conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Hudson Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and National Review magazine.
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Monday Sept. 29, 1997
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