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Bauer Stakes Conservative Ground
By Laura McCallum
September 17, 1999
MPR Online's Campaign 2000
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0

Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer brought his conservative campaign to Minnesota. Bauer touted vouchers and local control of schools at Stillwater High School, and picked up the endorsement of the conservative wing of the state Republican Party.

Bauer admitted his politics have little in common with Governor Ventura's socially moderate views. Bauer considers abortion one of the most important issues facing America.
At five-foot-six, Bauer knows he doesn't have the physical presence of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura. But Bauer told students the two have something in common: they're not professional politicians.
Bauer: I've never run for office before. I did serve eight years with Ronald Reagan; but I figure, you know, when people say, "How are you going to be President, since you've never run for office before," I mention your governor as having not really run for very much and he became governor. So, I even thought about changing some of my campaign slogans and have them read "Gary 'The Body' Bauer," but it just didn't seem like it would pass the straight face test.
Bauer admitted his politics have little in common with Governor Ventura's socially moderate views. Bauer considers abortion one of the most important issues facing America, and criticized fellow Republican George W. Bush for not committing to only appoint federal judges opposed to legalized abortion. Bauer quizzed students on the central idea found in the Declaration of Independence, and he paid one student $20 for being able to recite the section about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Bauer: I've read the Declaration and the Constitution hundreds and hundreds of times. I can't find the word "abortion" in here. Nowhere. But I can find these words: "we're given these rights, and among them are the right to life." It's the first right listed.
Bauer's other views read as almost a litmus test for the right wing of the Republican Party. He supports private school vouchers and increased defense spending; he opposes the Goals 2000 education standards, affirmative action for college admission and tougher gun restrictions. Bauer says tragedies like the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, shouldn't be blamed on the sawed-off shotguns used by the two student killers.
Bauer: The two boys, Eric and Dylan, they violated 22 gun laws, from the time they got their guns to the day they went to school. I don't see how a 23rd or 24th or 25th gun law would have made any difference.
Bauer says the larger problem is society's disrespect for life. Following his appearance, the student who earned Bauer's $20 - sophomore Matt Carter of Lake Elmo - says if he were old enough to vote, he'd probably support Bauer.
Carter: I think he's better than some of the bigger, more likely people to make it, because he makes more specific promises of what he does, or what he plans to do.
Bauer came in fourth in the Iowa straw poll, behind George W. Bush, Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Dole, and a recent New Hampshire poll showed him in seventh place with only three-percent support. His national campaign chairman, Charles Jarvis, quit this week and endorsed Forbes, saying Forbes is the only conservative who can win. Bauer says he doesn't put much stock in polls, and the defection of Jarvis won't hurt his campaign. The president of the Minnesota Republican Assembly, Matt Noah, says Bauer is the conservative choice.
Noah: He is being endorsed by the grassroots organizations. He has a fire in his belly and a powerful, principled message. While the polls are fun to watch, I will defer questions on their significance and validity to Governor Jesse Ventura.
Bauer met with members of his state steering committee while in Minnesota, but unlike the other presidential candidates who have visited the state recently - Bill Bradley, George W. Bush and Al Gore - he did not hold a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser.