From Daily News Miner
29 July 96 A-5 By DAVID MORRIS ................. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON—Delegates who want to strip strong anti-abortion language from the Republican platform don't have enough votes to get their way, but a new survey suggests they may have enough strength to force a compromise.
A telephone survey of Republican National Convention delegates by The Associated Press found that 34 percent want to remove the platform plank that supports a constitutional amendment to ban abortions. Fewer than half of the delegates headed to San Diego — 41 percent—said they wanted to retain the language, while 25 percent said they did not know or did not answer the question.
Delegates in the last category would hold the power if the issue is debated on the convention floor, but delegation leaders on both sides of the issue hope to avoid such a showdown.
Presumptive presidential nominee Bob Dole, who has refined his position several times since trouncing commentator Pat Buchanan in the primaries, said last week he wants to keep the anti-abortion plank in the platform but add new language acknowledging that not all Republicans share the same position on the emotionally charged issue.
"These results show what Bob Dole has maintained all along—that you can be a good Republican and hold diverse views on the plank," said campaign spokesman Nelson Warfield.
Activists on both sides are displeased with Dole's compromise. Some supporters of the platform language say tolerance language should not mention abortion specifically because Republicans disagree about many issues. And opponents say mentioning that some Republicans have other views masks the fact that the platform should not address abortion to begin with.
"There's no question that the plank will stay. I think there still could end up being an argument over Dole's tolerance language," said Gary L. Bauer, president of the Family Research Council and an outspoken abortion opponent.
He added that the issue could lead to a floor fight or conservative defections to a third party. The survey, which includes responses from 1,891 of the 1,990 GOP delegates, reflects some of that tension with results that divide the party by geography and sex.
It also shows a convention that takes a harder line on the abortion platform issue than GOP primary voters did. According to primary exit polls, 57 percent of Republican voters said the issue should not be part of the platform, compared with 38 percent who said it should.
Support for the anti-abortion plank is strongest in the South and Midwest, where Dole tends to run best in trial heats against President Clinton. But delegates who oppose the plank outnumber supporters in the North and West, where Dole must make gains if he is to narrow the double-digit lead Clinton enjoys in most pre-election polls.