September 17, 1994
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Taking credit for saving Clarence Thomas and launching Oliver North, Christian Coalition president Pat Robertson pledged Saturday that his activist army would not be deterred by Republican moderates who "don't stand for anything."
Robertson had plenty negative to say about the Clinton administration in remarks delivered at the closing dinner of the two-day conference. But some in the GOP also got a tongue-lashing from the founder of the socially conservative group that claims more than 1 million members.
"There are some members of the Republican Party who say they don't need us," Robertson scoffed. "They find the social and moral issues an embarrassment and wish that these issues, and people like us who care about them, would just go away."
Robertson said he and his followers have
"no intention of advocating bizarre positions which will lose elections." But he added, "We also have no intention of surrendering our deeply held moral stands just to please a handful of timid moderates who don't stand for anything."
The 5-year-old Christian Coalition's first major push was to deluge lawmakers with support for the embattled Thomas when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Though it is barred by tax law from endorsing specific candidates, its members propelled North to the GOP Senate nomination in Virginia.
The religious right's energy, money and volunteers make it a critical part of the national party base, as potential presidential candidates are aware.
"Your energy and commitment are a powerful sign of the times. Keep it up, and may your numbers multiply," said former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the final 1996 presidential prospect on Saturday night's program.
Cheney, who was in office during the Persian Gulf War, took President Clinton to task for what he called
"fuzzy headed thinking" on Haiti. "We're told that Haiti is just another Panama or Kuwait," he said. "That kind of thinking simply doesn't reflect the realities of our history."
He also accused Clinton of letting
"his campaign rhetoric overcome his judgment" and shape his policies.
But he warned his audience that
"however much you disagree with Bill Clinton's policies in Haiti, that should not be taken as criticism of our young men and women in uniform."
He ended with remarks with a prayer for the troops who may be sent to invade Haiti.
Three other White House hopefuls addressed the 3,000 delegates Friday. And Saturday morning they heard a personal testimony from Elizabeth Dole, wife of Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, on how she once let careerism crowd God out of her life.
Bob Dole, R-Kan., another presidential prospect, was in California campaigning for congressional candidates. His wife explained that and pointedly mentioned how glad he was to have been able to meet with coalition leaders in his office.
Robertson, once a contender for the GOP presidential nomination, attacked Clinton for reneging on his campaign promise to give middle-class Americans a tax cut, and called his plans to invade Haiti "voodoo foreign policy."
Phyllis Schlafly, an anti-abortion leader, warned her audience to be on guard against moderates who want to eliminate abortion from the 1996 Republican platform -- among them New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, and Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
"You and I did not let that happen in 1992 and we are not going to let it happen in 1996," Schlafly said.
However, she suggested later she would not insist on retaining the platform call for a constitutional amendment outlawing all abortions. As recently as June she had said any waffling at all would be politically stupid.
"I think the party platform should just uphold the principle that the unborn child has the fundamental, individual right to life," Schlafly said Saturday. "Leave the legislation and the trappings and all the specifics to the pro-life movement" or legislators.
The coalition's stated agenda is heavy on tax cuts, school vouchers, term limits and crime-fighting. But many speakers this weekend had other things on their minds.
Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council lobbying group, advised Clinton to
"triple spending for abstinence education" and "cease and desist in your efforts at pushing the homosexual lifestyle on Americans who don't want to know about it."
G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate plumber turned radio talk show host, advised his audience not to be strident or abusive. And, he said, don't expect to attract Jewish allies if you go around saying it's a Christian country.
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