Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robertson Rates GOP Candidates Bush `Worthy,' Others Fall Short

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robertson Rates GOP Candidates Bush `Worthy,' Others Fall Short

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- As Republican presidential candidates showed off their conservative credentials yesterday, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson deemed Gary Bauer a "lost cause," Elizabeth Dole "a Southern belle" and George W. Bush "worthy of support."

For Pat Buchanan, Robertson gave a stern warning that Christian conservatives will desert him if he ditches the GOP for a third-party presidential run with the Reform Party.

The two-day conference drew 3,500 of the coalition's 2.1 million members and six of the eight Republicans running for president.

It was Bush, the Texas governor and front-runner for the GOP nomination, who filled all the seats -- and lined the perimeter's standing room -- in a cavernous hotel ballroom. "Every child born and unborn must be protected by law and welcomed to life," he declared.

He advocated parental-notification laws on abortion, saying "Parents should be the first to help, not the last to know."

In an interview, Robertson all but dismissed Bauer, whose teenaged supporters in campaign T-shirts worked yesterday's convention in droves.

"He's not going to win," Robertson told The New York Times.

Robertson said some of what he's heard from Bush's "centrist" campaign "so far would cause me to believe he would be worthy of support of the coalition."

In his speech, Bauer promised that, unlike Bush, he would make a judge's opposition to abortion rights a prerequisite for appointment to any federal bench.

Bauer shouted, "My judges are going to understand that marriage is between a man and a woman -- not two men."

Dole took the stage to the rolling crescendos of the music from Gone With the Wind and talked of her religious upbringing. She called her grandmother's Bible her dearest treasure.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch promised to be a "conservative president with guts. …

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