August 14, 1996 in Nation/World

Gop Women Talk Tough Clinton Takes Brunt Of Jokes In San Diego

Michael Kranish Boston Globe
 

With some of the party’s most prominent women leading the way, an array of Republican big guns fired one salvo after another Tuesday night at President Clinton, bashing the incumbent on everything from crime to the economy and hailing Bob Dole’s tax cut plan as the key to more prosperity for America.

Rep. Susan Molinari of New York, whose moderate stand on some social issues is at odds with the party platform, said in her keynote address on Day 2 of the GOP’s national convention that Republicans are the party of families, for a central reason: The GOP will keep its promise to cut taxes, while Clinton will not.

“Think about Bill Clinton,” Molinari said. “He promises one thing and does another. He hopes we will forget his broken promises … Bill Clinton’s promises have the lifespan of a Big Mac on Air Force One.”

The night was headlined by Molinari, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey. While much had been said beforehand about the fact that all three favor abortion rights, none mentioned that in speeches approved by the Dole campaign.

Off the convention floor, meanwhile, retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, often mentioned as a possible secretary of state, said he would seriously consider the post. “If there is a Dole administration, which I expect there will be, I would consider anything that the president asks me to do,” Powell said on CBS.

The vice presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, said he would switch course and support Dole’s views on a variety of issues on which they have disagreed in the past - including cutting off aid to illegal immigrants and California’s attempt to roll back affirmative action programs.

Last night was informally known as the “Bash Clinton” event. So it was a surprise that House Speaker Newt Gingrich, perhaps the Republicans’ most vocal Clinton critic, did not mention the president’s name in his remarks.

For Gingrich, whose fortunes have variously soared and plummeted since the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, Tuesday night was his chance to hear unfiltered adulation. Thousands of Republicans waved “Speaker Newt” signs as they watched a music video of the speaker meeting with ordinary people. Gingrich introduced Californian Kent Steffes, who won a gold medal in beach volleyball, and said this year’s recognition of the new Olympic sport was an example the “world of opportunity opening … this is what freedom is all about.”

Gingrich then asked delegates to reflect on the vision of “greatest Georgian of the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

“We, too, have a dream,” Gingrich said. “Our dream is of a Monday morning when we wake up and not a single child has been harmed in America … when it is easy to find a job or create a job and your own government doesn’t punish for trying.”

But others, including the women who headlined the night, came to the podium eager to take on Clinton.

Hutchison, who was briefly considered as a vice presidential possibility, launched one of the most caustic attacks. First, on two giant video screens, delegates saw montages that mocked Clinton, including one in which the president said, “Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you!” That provided a segue for Hutchison to launch into a litany of what she called the president’s broken promises.

“It’s time to wake up, America, to President Clinton and his high-taxing, free-spending, promise-breaking, Social Security-taxing, health care-socializing, drug-coddling, power-grabbing, business-busting, lawsuit-loving, UN-following, FBI-abusing, IRS-increasing, $200-hair-cutting, gas-taxing, over-regulating, bureaucracy-trusting, class-baiting, privacy-violating, values-crushing, truth-dodging, Medicare-forsaking, property-rights-taking, jobs-destroying friends.

“And that’s just in the White House!” Hutchison said, to great applause.

While Republicans clearly wanted to use the evening to attract women voters, abortion was not part of the party’s official script. The platform calls for banning abortion, and Dole and Kemp oppose abortion rights. Unlike Monday night, when Powell noted that he disagreed with the platform on the issue, the speakers Tuesday night were advised not to mention the matter.

While Molinari’s speech was filled with discussion of Republican values, she saved some of her most revealing comments for off the floor.

“Obviously, I don’t agree with a lot of what’s in this platform.” Molinari said on NBC.

Molinari, a 38-year-old three-term representative, presented the party message Tuesday night in softer tones and brighter hues. Molinari, who is married to Rep. William Paxon of New York, spoke about what the party means to their 3-month-old daughter, Susan Ruby. While Molinari spoke, the baby rested in the arms of her grandfather, former Rep. Guy Molinari of New York, and drank a bottle.

“I don’t know a mom today who isn’t being stretched to her limit trying to hold down a job while trying to hold down the fort at home, too. How many times have we said to ourselves, ‘There just aren’t enough hours in the day’? And the truth is, there aren’t. Well, Republicans, can’t promise you any more hours in a day, but we can help you spend more hours at home with your family.”

Democrats, who set up a “rapid response” office here, immediately faxed an 11-page rebuttal of the GOP speeches. The Democrats said, for example, that Molinari’s assertion that family incomes have dropped every year since Clinton became president is “simply untrue” and have actually increased slightly since 1992, but dropped under former President Bush.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SPEECHES ON-LINE Full texts of GOP convention speeches by Colin Powell, former Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush, and Spokane’s Scott O’Grady are available on Virtually Northwest, The Spokesman-Review’s on-line service. More speeches and the GOP platform will be posted when available at http:/ /www.VirtuallyNW.com.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SPEECHES ON-LINE Full texts of GOP convention speeches by Colin Powell, former Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush, and Spokane’s Scott O’Grady are available on Virtually Northwest, The Spokesman-Review’s on-line service. More speeches and the GOP platform will be posted when available at http:/ /www.VirtuallyNW.com.


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