Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

With Eye on Future, Wilson Evokes Past Californian Tosses His Hat in Ring amid Charge That Nation Has Slipped a Notch

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

With Eye on Future, Wilson Evokes Past Californian Tosses His Hat in Ring amid Charge That Nation Has Slipped a Notch

Article excerpt

With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, Gov. Pete Wilson of California formally entered the Republican presidential race Monday with a dark portrait of a federal government that he said was "out of step, out of touch and out of control."

Wilson pledged to restore fairness to a nation that he said has slipped into decline since his immigrant grandparents came from Ireland at the turn of the century. He said he would keep faith with Americans who "work hard, pay their taxes and raise their children to obey the law."

The famous statue has long been a beacon to immigrants, but Wilson used it as a symbol of his fight against illegal immigration, saying there is a "right way to come to America and a wrong way."

Wilson, 62, also hammered away at the three other issues he plans to make the core of his campaign: ending affirmative action, cutting welfare and cracking down on crime.

Outlining the core beliefs that he said guide him, Wilson said: "We must reward hard work and individual merit. We must hold individuals personally responsible for their actions. We must shrink the size and cost and intrusiveness of government. . . . And we must honor and preserve the most important institution in America - the family."

He built his remarks around his maternal grandmother, Kate Barton, who he said emigrated from Ireland "the right way" in the late 19th century. She married another Irish immigrant, Mike Callahan, a Chicago police officer.

His grandfather was killed in the line of duty, leaving his grandmother to work as a maid, Wilson said, but she was guided by values that "are alive and well, maybe not in the halls of government but in the homes of Americans."

Wilson lived in St. Louis as a youngster and graduated from what is now Mary Institute Country Day School. `Values . . . Under Siege'

Noting the Statue of Liberty's famous inscription welcoming "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," Wilson said: "The tired have escaped foreign tyrants only to suffer the oppression of federal tyrants. …

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