Dolly Madison McKenna: “This is the big tent.” LOUIS DUBOSE in the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights case decided by the Warren Court. Had Sarah Weddington grown up in her family, Susan Weddington said, Sarah would have learned respect for human life. Susan Weddington also introduced her parents,. and thanked them for bringing her into the world. In the senatorial district caucuses and on the floor, the mood, or perhaps the character, of this convention was even more intensely religious than the speeches on the platform suggested, and country-club Republicans seemed as much a quaint curiosity as fundamental Christians did four’ state conventions ago. In random walks through senatorial district caucuses Saturday morning, the same confirmation rites occurred again and again. In the room where senatorial district 12 convened, a candidate for district office was introduced as “godly man of principle.” Another candidate was introduced as a man with an “undying love for his wife and family and his Lord Jesus Christ.” In the senate district 8 caucus, a surrogate speaking on behalf of Gayle West reminded delegates that West’s husband is a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Pasadena. Interviewed on the floor, delegate Angela Heiter said she has served as a delegate at every convention since Ronald Reagan was elected. “And the only reason I come is for the babies. If you believe that babies have the right to life, then I have no problem with what else you want to. do. If you think it’s okay to take the head off a baby because he is unwanted for the moment, if you think that it’s right to kill a child just because he hasn’t had his birthday, then nothing else you have to say has any bearing to me at all.” Heiter said she supported Pauken’s candidacy “back in January when he told me he was running. I said, ‘Tom go for it. We don’t need Fred Meyer because he is not helping the babies…’ “Philosophically the Republican Party is solid pro-life…there has been bitterness on the floor from that part of the party that disagrees, that thinks it’s okay to kill babies. But they’re getting smaller and smaller.” New party leaders and delegates are ahead of most candidates on the abortion issue, Heiter said. “The leadership of the party has developed into a leadership that recognizes the right to life and right-to-life leaders have become involved with the Republican Party because they were accepted and are now a major force in the party.” They were accepted, some contend, because others were excluded. Speaking from the floor, Fort Worth delegate Paul Powell said his wife, an airline flight attendant, is not at the convention because she no longer feels there is a place for her in the party. Mary Bennett said that she is “100 percent pro-choice and if these delegates had any sense they would pay attention to Republican issues, like keeping my husband’s job at Lockheed. The only way to get rid of these , people is to vote [against their candidates] in the November election.” Bennett complained of delegate-screening procedures that included questions about church attendance. “If you didn’t say ‘I am a Christian and I attend a certain church,’ you were excluded.” She only got in this year, she said, because a clerical error in mailing at her county convention would have left the party open to a lawsuit if she had been eliminated. George Dutton, of Arlington, told a similar story of religious screening for potential delegates. Both Bennett and Dutton are members of “Take it Back,” an organization of moderate Republicans determined to move the party back toward the center. Most candidates were cautious and avoided a public embrace of the Christian right, particularly on the abortion issue. “George Bush won’t mention it,” Heiter said. “And that’s about all Phil Gramm will do, mention it. And Kay Bailey. No! I can exercise my option not to vote for her.” Hutchison, who supports women’s right to abortion, was the only candidate for elected office who was booed while speaking to the convention. “They’ve taken over the convention and are a major constituency group in the primary,” said one stealth moderate who covered his silver alternate delegate with his hands and refused to give me his name.”But in the general election their vote is diluted.” “What remains to be seen is how much they get involved in the recruitment of can didates,” said one secular Republican seated behind a tiny Swiss flag that someone had posted to designate a neutral, “Pauken-free zone” in the Worthington Hotel bar. \(Another notable change in conventional protocol was the absence of free beer and liquor in hospitality rooms. Some were dry, others had cash bars, and all had pastries. Barton must have spent $30,000 of his $100,000 on ice cream served by ice cream chefs at the half-dozen design-your-own sundae ice Delegates already have split from rankand-file Republicans on their preference of presidential candidates to represent the party in 1996. First in a poll of 950 delegates was former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, with almost 25 percent of the vote. Next was former ‘Vice President Dan Quayle, with 20 percent. Former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp came in third, with 14 percent of the vote. Gramm placed fourth, with only 8 percent of the vote. This wasn’t what Gramm anticipated and he obviously miscalculated by supporting Barton. He miscalculated again when he released a press advisory congratulating Pauken before Barton conceded the race on Before these secular Repubs went looking for voters among the fundamentalist Christians 14 years ago, they might have consulted the book that informs Christian politics. The Old Testament Book of Hosea would have at least warned them. “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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