Trying to head off a divisive convention fight, Bob Dole on Friday abandoned an effort to soften the party’s anti-abortion plank and instead proposed new “tolerance” language elsewhere in the platform.
The new language, recognizing a diversity of GOP viewpoints, would appear once in the platform’s introduction and again in a new “Tolerance Plank.”
“The Republican Party should maintain its commitment to protecting the unborn. We are also a party that is tolerant of those who do not share our view on every issue,” the prospective GOP presidential nominee said.
The move appeared broadly acceptable to a wide cross section of Republicans, judging from early reviews, although it drew fire from the most outspoken on both sides of the issue. While most anti-abortion groups welcomed the new Dole language, it drew scorn from renegade Republican Pat Buchanan.
Dole said the new language reflected an agreement with Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the party’s Platform Committee and a longtime outspoken abortion opponent.
Hyde praised the “good-faith effort” to bridge internal GOP differences. “I will include this language in the draft document that will go to San Diego,” Hyde said, referring to next month’s GOP convention.
Although Hyde’s panel still must vote on the language in advance of the convention, the fact that both Hyde and Dole are embracing it all but assures its acceptance.
The new GOP plan came a day after Democrats moved to smoothly bridge their own internal differences on the issue.
Democratic platform writers in Kansas City produced a draft declaring abortion rights a “fundamental constitutional liberty” while also recognizing “the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue.”