Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sen. Lugar of Indiana to Seek Presidency; Eighth from Gop

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sen. Lugar of Indiana to Seek Presidency; Eighth from Gop

Article excerpt

Offering himself as the candidate of "straight talk and serious action," Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., joined the 1996 presidential race on Wednesday.

He pledged to abolish the federal income tax and provide steady leadership in world affairs.

Lugar, a one-time lay Methodist minister, also promised if elected to spearhead an "American spiritual renewal." He blamed a decline in community, family and moral values for rising teen pregnancy and troubling rates of school dropouts and violent crime.

Lugar's announcement speech was sprinkled with suggestions that President Bill Clinton lacked the standing to "rise to that challenge of reinvigorating American moral character. . . .

"Our risks are too great and our opportunities too many not to have a president with the experience, character and resolve to lead this great country at this important time," Lugar said.

He made his announcement race before a lunchtime crowd in downtown Indianapolis, where he served as mayor 25 years ago. He conceded that he was a decided long shot for the GOP nomination. But he predicted that voters would warm to his ideas and his studious style.

"My candidacy is grounded on faith that Americans care deeply about their country," Lugar said. "Faith that Americans know that the presidency is not entertainment. Faith that Americans are not only willing but eager to support a presidential candidate who offers straight talk and serious action on issues that affect their lives and their children's future."

To that end, Lugar promoted the radical tax proposal that he is counting on to separate him from his rivals. His plan would eliminate the federal income tax, on both individuals and corporations, as well as taxes on capital gains, estates, gifts and inheritance. Instead, Americans would pay a national sales tax of roughly 17 percent.

Lugar said his plan would dramatically increase the savings rate, produce thousands of new jobs because of increased investment capital and prove a boon to American companies, because their products would be more competitively priced in world markets. Critics of such plans say that sales taxes are easy to raise and that future presidents also could revive the income tax. …

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