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Married … with voters


School uniforms. Teen curfews. More educational programming on television for children.

At times it sounds as though Bill Clinton is running for president of the PTA, not president of the United States.

Clinton’s support for each of these ideas are all part of a concentrated White House effort to address the anxieties of a voting block so large it is often overlooked: the nation’s 53 million married couples, particularly those with children.

Reliable support from married couples was a cornerstone of the GOP coalition that dominated presidential politics from 1968-1988.

Now, however, Clinton is closing that gap: polls this year consistently show the president leading presumptive GOP nominee Bob Dole among married voters.

Strategists in both parties agree that Dole is unlikely to climb back into the race unless he can re-establish the traditional Republican advantage with married voters.

“If the White House can break even with married people, then they win the election no problem,” says Martin P. Wattenberg, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine. “There is nothing Dole is offering that is going to win him the single vote.”

Uproar over abortion


Despite Bob Dole’s efforts to calm the Republican furor over abortion, the issue continues to explode through the party. In the latest bursts, the chairman of the Republican platform committee, Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., has privately talked of quitting; a prominent senator, Phil Gramm of Texas, is warning that he may boycott the Republican National Convention in August; and conservative groups in several states are trying to keep abortion rights supporters out of convention delegations.

Republican delegations are riven by disputes over abortion in several other states as well - including Washington, South Carolina, Alabama and Colorado - where abortion foes are trying to replace abortion rights backers with religious conservatives.

The Christian Coalition has joined a drive under way in various states to press candidates for convention delegate to sign pledges opposing a change in the platform’s anti-abortion language and insisting that Dole pick a running mate who opposes abortion.

“I think it’s been very successful,” said Ralph Reed, executive director of the Christian Coalition. “I would anticipate that a majority of the delegates at the convention will be pro-life.”

Dough for Perot


The Federal Election Commission on Thursday gave Ross Perot an extra incentive to run for president this year, ruling that he is eligible to receive nearly $30 million in taxpayer funding if he decides to enter the race.

But the commission put off a ruling on whether another presidential candidate nominated by Perot’s Reform Party would be eligible for the same funding. The delay could hurt the potential candidacy of former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm.

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