Robertson Cautions Dole on Running-Mate Choice: Doesn't Foresee Abortion Fight at Convention

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VIRGINIA BEACH - Certain that the GOP platform will retain its pro-life stance, Pat Robertson said yesterday it is crucial that Bob Dole signal he will pick a socially conservative vice presidential candidate to keep the religious right enthusiastic about the national election.

"I believe that if Bob Dole does not pick a conservative, pro-life running mate, the Republican Party will lose the House, lose the Senate and lose the presidency," Mr. Robertson said.

"Picking a so-called moderate or somebody who is perceived as pro-choice will be absolutely devastating in November," he said in an interview at his Christian Broadcasting Network headquarters.

If a conservative is not selected, the 45 percent of the GOP that is conservative will become apathetic and "the checkbooks are going to close and the workers won't be forthcoming," he predicted.

Mr. Robertson, himself a former GOP presidential candidate, made his comments at a time when some political analysts and the news media have played up differences within the party over a "tolerance" amendment to the pro-life plank.

The religious broadcaster had just returned from El Salvador, where his ministry's "flying hospital," housed in a L-1001 jumbo jet, treated about 7,000 people. Next week, he flies to Israel to feature Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on his "700 Club" television program.

"I don't think the abortion plank is going to be a problem. I don't see a floor fight on it, because there won't be anything to fight about," he said, citing Mr. Dole's pro-life voting record in the Senate.

"Some on the conservative wing of the party are making a lot of noise. But those of us who are a little closer to what is being done understand that the matter is settled," he said.

Mr. Robertson, who has not been invited to make an official speech at the GOP convention in San Diego next month, had floated the name of Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, as a potential Dole running mate.

But with no response to that proposal, Mr. Robertson now is suggesting California Attorney General Dan Lungren, an articulate social conservative and committed Roman Catholic, "as a superb choice. …