Christian Coalition Cheers Dole Robertson Urges Him to Focus on Morality

Article excerpt

Carol Lester, a teacher from President Bill Clinton's hometown of Hope, Ark., and a Christian Coalition delegate, says it's time Bob Dole challenged Clinton on issues such as abortion, character and personal honor.

Pat Robertson, who founded the Christian Coalition, told delegates Saturday at the coalition's Road to Victory conference that it would take "a miracle from Almighty God" for Dole to win the presidency - and that could happen only if he emphasized moral issues from now until the election.

Later Saturday, Robertson made a surprise introduction of Dole, who changed his schedule to attend. "I was just driving by and saw all the cars. Happened to be in the neighborhood," Dole told the group. Dole's reception was a stark contrast to the one Reform Party candidate Ross Perot got on Friday. Perot, who supports abortion rights, was heckled and jeered by some delegates, who interrupted him with shouts of "abortion" and "what about abortion?" Dole and running mate Kemp, who oppose abortion rights, received ovations from the enthusiastic crowd. Dole's appearance seemed in the nature of an olive branch to the coalition. As Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly pointed out before Dole spoke, many Christian conservatives didn't appreciate Dole's efforts to appease abortion rights Republicans by trying to include language in the party's platform that called for tolerance. John Parrott Jr., a manufacturer's representative from Bloomington, Ill., heads the state's chapter of the Christian Coalition. He says Dole's push for tax cuts is great so far as it goes, but, that to win, he needs to speak out forcefully in opposition of abortion and in favor of the coalition's "pro-family" agenda. "Ronald Reagan told the American people exactly where he stood, and he never wavered," Parrott said. "Bob Dole needs to get that message out, too." Robertson, in an address to the convention early Saturday, said, "It's not the economy, stupid, it's morality, stupid, and that's where the issue's going to be decided in this campaign." "It's the economy, stupid," was a guiding slogan in Clinton's campaign four years ago. Robertson recalled the 1988 election, when he endorsed Vice President George Bush. Bush embraced many themes popular with religious conserva tives during his successful campaign for the White House. Robertson said Bush lost the votes of Jews, blacks and Hispanics, but polled 81 percent support among evangelicals. "It meant you could win with just evangelicals," Robertson said. "I want to say this as clearly as I can: This campaign for the presidency is far behind. Twenty-three points is about as insurmountable an obstacle as I can think of. …