|SNAPSHOT: GARY BAUER|
November 4, 1999
KWAME HOLMAN: Early presidential politics is dominated by the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. But Republicans in the Bayou State of Louisiana are trying to raise the profile of their first-in-the-nation Republican caucus vote next January 15th, and they're getting a boost in the effort from Gary Bauer. Tuesday night, the former Reagan administration education official spent his 13th day in Louisiana, far more than the other five Republican presidential candidates combined. In the Southern Louisiana City of Lake Charles, home to riverboat casinos, Bauer was greeted by a handful of supporters who waited in unseasonably cold weather and fading daylight. Bauer began as he often does, with a pledge that as President, he would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary.
GARY BAUER: I've made it absolutely clear the last few months that the judges I appoint are going to have to believe a few things. They are going to have to understand the words of the Declaration of Independence, where it says that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. And all my judges are also going to have to believe and be committed to the idea that all of our children ought to be welcomed into the world and protected by the law.(Applause) Just so we are all clear about this, I plan to end abortion on demand in my presidency. (Applause) And I will never sacrifice one American child, black or white, rich or poor, born or unborn, for political gain.
KWAME HOLMAN: Bauer also talked about reforming the income tax code.
GARY BAUER: Under my plan, your first $20,000 you make is tax-free. Then you would be able to subtract from your income your mortgage interest deduction, and your charitable deduction, and then what's remaining, you would only pay 16 cents on the dollar to Washington, DC. Now, I still think that's too high, but that's a great step in the right direction. My plan is pro-family and it's fair. It's across the board. The other day I took a look at Steve Forbes' flat tax plan, and I've got to tell you, I was pretty shocked about what I saw. Under his plan, a lot of large corporations will be paying zero in taxes, while truck drivers, schoolteachers and farmers will be paying 25 percent, between income taxes and Social Security taxes.
KWAME HOLMAN: After his short speech, Bauer took questions.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: Gary, a couple questions about the budget. First of all, is the surplus that Clinton's been talking about real, or is he using Social Security to help pay other bills? And would you use Social Security income strictly for Social Security, or would it go to help balance the budget?
GARY BAUER: This is an important issue. Where I grew up, in Newport, Kentucky, the elderly would have been living in poverty if it weren't for Social Security. I think it's a great program. I think it needs to be preserved. You all know that the politicians in Washington in both parties have been taking that money and spending it on their favorite schemes. But we're going to stop that. That program is a good program. We're going to keep our promises to our parents and grandparents.
SPOKESMAN: Let's wave those flags. A nice big round of applause to Presidential Candidate Gary Bauer and his family.
KWAME HOLMAN: Yesterday morning, Bauer got a warm reception from young people at Lakewood Christian Academy in Lake Charles. He talked about combating school violence.
GARY BAUER: The day before I was going to announce I was running for President, we had the terrible events out at Columbine High School. The two boys that did that terrible thing were coming to school every day, and they were giving the Nazi salute in the hallway, which is a symbol of a very bad thing, a terrible thing that America fought against. Nobody asked their parents to come in for a parent-teacher conference. Nobody sent them to the principal's office. But if a teacher at Columbine High School had hung up the Ten Commandments in her classroom, or if she had asked her students to bow their heads for a moment of prayer, she would have been taken to the principal's office right away. So if I'm elected President, we're not going to have Nazi salutes in the schools anymore. And school prayer and the Ten Commandments are going to be allowed again. (Applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Throughout the three-day swing across Louisiana, Bauer and his wife attracted consistently small but enthusiastic crowds. They ended up yesterday in Baton Rouge, where Bauer officially submitted papers, and paid a $5,000 filing fee as a presidential candidate in January's statewide Republican nominating caucus.
JIM LEHRER: Terry Neal of the "Washington Post" is with us now. The NewsHour is working with the "Post" in covering the 2000 presidential race. Terry Neal, welcome.
TERRY NEAL, Washington Post: Thank you, Jim. It's good to be here.
JIM LEHRER: Did that report capture the basic campaign approach of Gary Bauer?
TERRY NEAL: I think you hit all of the high points to the Bauer campaign there, and one thing that I would add is a little bit more perspective about what he's doing in Louisiana. It's a crucial state for his campaign. Basically what he wants to do is win Louisiana, which he thinks that he can do. It's a state that has a very strong Christian Coalition or Christian rights presence. That caucus date is set for now at January 15th, although I understand it may be moved. He wants to win there. He thinks that if he can place in Iowa, which is the next caucus after that, about nine days later, that that will give him the momentum that he needs going into New Hampshire and some of these other contests.
JIM LEHRER: Now he doesn't have strong opposition in Louisiana, does he? Is anybody really mounting the kind of campaign he is?
TERRY NEAL: No one really is. I mean, Forbes is putting on somewhat of a race or he was at one point, but there was interesting news today. Governor Bush actually said he's not going to campaign there at all. He's going to honor the tradition of Iowa being the first caucus state. And Mike Foster, who is the governor of the State of Louisiana, was actually going to stand in for Bush but he said he wouldn't do that either. So, that kind of made the contest a little bit less significant overall. But it still is a state. And if they win, it can be important. If you remember what happened in 1996, Pat Buchanan ran there -- as did Phil Gramm -- and Pat Buchanan's victory there really hurt Senator Gramm going into Iowa. A lot of people think that it was one of the reasons that he wasn't able to carry on.
JIM LEHRER: You laid out the scenario there that the Bauer people have: Do well in Louisiana and then go to... placed not first but pretty close in Iowa. Do they actually see a scenario that could end up with Bauer being the nominee of the Republican Party?
TERRY NEAL: They see one obviously. I mean he's saying that he's running to win. He's not going to tell you that there's no chance that he can't be the nominee. I mean, he's serious about getting the nomination and being President. Privately, they will acknowledge that it's a very tough, you know, uphill battle that they have. I mean right now he's at about 3 percent in the national polls. But the flip argument there is it's not a national election in the sense that you start in one state, you build momentum and eventually you capture enough, you know, delegates to win. That's kind of what their strategy is. But they know they have a really tough, really tough battle ahead of them.
JIM LEHRER: Are Bauer and Forbes pretty much going after the same voters?
TERRY NEAL: Yeah, and I think that that's the biggest impact that Gary Bauer is having in the race right now. I mean Steve Forbes wants to portray the contest at this point a three-person race: Steve Forbes, John McCain and George W. Bush, but as long as Gary Bauer is in the race, he's cutting into Steve Forbes' ability to capture, you know, to really capture the Christian right. And that's what he's been working on since 1996 when he lost. So as long as Bauer is in the race, even if only getting 4r or 5 percent in the polls, he's still splitting that vote to some extent with Steve Forbes. For Steve Forbes to say it's a three-person race, he needs basically Gary Bauer to be out of the race.
JIM LEHRER: I noticed in that clip that Bauer took Forbes to task on the flat tax proposal. Does he take him on directly like that on other issues as well?
TERRY NEAL: It's interesting that he's more directly challenging Forbes than he is Bush. Bush is the frontrunner in the race. And that's because of what I just said, which is that, you know, these two guys are fighting it out for this particular segment of the vote, and the way they see it is, you know, Bush is kind of the establishment candidate. McCain is kind of the maverick. And then the third person is going to be fighting it out for this fairly large and very active segment of the vote that consists of Christian conservative voters.
JIM LEHRER: Do you have the feeling in a word, Terry, that Gary Bauer is going to stay in this race for some time?
TERRY NEAL: I do think that he is. And I think the reason is, I was just talking to them today and they said that they've raised $6 million, that $4 million of that is matchable. They have got $10 million. For the kind of race that he's running, he can stay in it with that kind of money. It's not a lot of money but it's a lot more than Elizabeth Dole had. He's running the campaign kind of like Buchanan has run, which is the kind of guerrilla campaigns that sneak up on you, you don't need a lot of money to do it. $10 million at this early in the stage is more than enough money to keep going for a while.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. Terry Neal, thank you very much.
JIM LEHRER: All right. You can get more information on this story on the Washington Post Web site, as well as ours.
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