(Johnston, Iowa) Presidential hopeful Gary Bauer on Friday said George W. Bush is an “unusual frontrunner” in the race for the Republican party’s presidential nomination because he’s been “unclear” about his stands on major issues.
“We’re looking forward in kind of getting out there and sort of pinning him down. I think people in Iowa and around the country deserve specificity about ideas and issues and what we all intend to do about these problems,” Bauer said during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.”
Bauer, on a leave of absence from his role as president of the conservative “Family Policy Council,” was a deputy in the U.S. Department of Education and a domestic policy advisor in the Reagan Administration.
“I think there’s been a big vacuum left in American politics ever since Ronald Reagan left the stage and quite frankly, I think my party is suffering by forgetting what he taught us about how to be the governing party of the United States…and I think once this debate gets going and we’re all going to be able to get out there and mix it up, I think people are going to find my ideas and my approaches to be preferable to some of the others,” Bauer said.
Bauer’s comments come on the eve of Texas Governor Bush’s first campaign visit to the state. While conceding Bush as the ‘frontrunner’ in the race, Bauer refused to concede the son of the former President has a any sort of lock on the nomination.
“There’s nothing inevitable about this and I think it’s an insult to the voters of Iowa if my party’s establishment tries to deliver the nomination to one candidate before the voters…have had a chance to really deal with the issues,” Bauer said.
Bauer said critical to the campaign debate will be fleshing out Bush’s “real governing ideas.”
“He came out in just the last week and disclosed that he thought the Senate should have impeached (President Clinton). Well, my goodness, Governor, that debate’s now four months ago. That’s not leadership. We need to know if the person we’re going to anoint has real governing ideas and I think the Governor is going to run into some problems.”
Bauer has opposed U.S./NATO intervention in Kosovo; he opposes granting “Most Favored Nation” status to China as a trading partner; he opposes abortion and proposes a modified “flat tax” on income.