These Bush proponents contend that his conservative credentials are impeccable, that he is committed to ending abortion and that his religious convictions are deeply held and openly declared.
Bush's goal is to prevent a replay of recent nomination fights. In each of the past three GOP contests, the "mainstream" candidate has faced a challenge from the ideological right: Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson in 1988, and television commentator Patrick J. Buchanan in 1992 and 1996. Buchanan's two bids seriously damaged the eventual nominees, Bush's father and Robert J. Dole. By the general election, each had been weakened and discredited among conservative voters.
In the 2000 election, a number of candidates are seeking to become the dominant challenger from the right, including Buchanan, Dan Quayle, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes. And Bush, if nominated, could face a third-party challenge in the general election. Bush and GOP leaders are worried that these developments could lead to either the defection of conservative voters or their failure to turn out on Election Day.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.