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Des Moines Register: Challengers attack Bush on eve of debate

By David Yepsen/Des Moines Register

December 13, 1999
Web posted at: 10:11 a.m. EST (1511 GMT)

Des Moines RegisterDES MOINES, Iowa (Des Moines Register) -- Several of George W. Bush's challengers for the Republican presidential nomination peppered the Texas governor with attacks Sunday as the GOP field prepared for tonight's presidential debate in Des Moines.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, unveiled his "Hatch Day One Agenda" of things he would do on his first day in office.

That agenda would include establishing a code of conduct for the presidency, enforcing criminal laws governing firearms, revoking executive orders that have expanded executive branch power, and initiating an effort to combat terrorism in the United States.

"I think I have more to offer than any of the other candidates who are there," Hatch said during an interview on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program. "I think experience is a good thing."

Hatch said as a senator, "I've been able to bring both sides together to get things done for the good of the country." He said President Clinton has appointed about half the federal judiciary and it is important for Republicans to win the White House so they can appoint the other half and not turn the judiciary over to the Democrats.

Also Sunday, former commentator Alan Keyes said on ABC's "This Week" program that Bush doesn't want to face the abortion issue.

Keyes, in an interview conducted from Des Moines, said "my problem with G.W. Bush is he doesn't want to face those priorities. We are in the midst of the greatest moral crisis this nation has ever known. Issues like abortion, that assault the basic moral principles of our nation's life, have to be addressed up front.

"Any Republican who is not willing to address that moral crisis as the top priority is going to lose this election," Keyes said. Conservative activist Gary Bauer, also in Iowa on Sunday, said on the same program that this month's debates "have raised serious questions about whether the front-runner in the party has any sort of governing vision, whether it's on how to deal with China, basic reform of the tax code, or on the fundamental issue of how we make sure there is a place at the table for our unborn children.

"The race is a lot more fluid now than it was before the debates began. I know why the governor was resistant to get involved. He's not doing very well," Bauer said.

Bauer also accused Bush of failing to promise he would put only anti-abortion judges on the bench. "Mine will all be pro-life or they won't serve. I want to ask him tomorrow night, was Roe vs. Wade (the Supreme Court decision establishing abortion rights) wrongly decided or correctly decided? I think it's a blot on our national conscience. Any nominee of the party of Lincoln or Reagan ought to be willing to say that's bad law that needs to be overturned."

Also over the weekend, publisher Steve Forbes announced he was mailing videotapes to potential Iowa caucus-goers. Forbes aides said some potential supporters are reluctant to go to a caucus because they don't understand the process. He said the tapes are designed to ease anxieties and get supporters to show up on caucus night.


Bush says national campaign strategy may account for lower New Hampshire poll numbers (12-9-99)

Des Moines Register: Candidates will question each other in Iowa debate (12-9-99)



Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.


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Monday, December 13, 1999

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