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"
"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. …