(Newton, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer sat an extra 20 minutes in the Radisson Inn lobby in Newton, waiting for a few more people to walk into a nearby room where 50 chairs awaited.
When his “town hall meeting” started at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 townsfolk had shown up, joining the five reporters and the Bauer staffers in the small conference room adorned with “Bauer for President” placards covering the artwork hung on the walls.
“I really appreciate you showing up on what I know is a busy week,” Bauer told the group. “I was concerned when I came here this morning that, you know, I might be talking to myself.”
Bauer is the lone presidential candidate to campaign this week in Iowa, the state which holds republican and democratic party caucuses on January 24,2000 — the kick-off event of the presidential campaign season.
“We’ve surprised some folks by using this week between Christmas and New Years…when I think most of the other candidates are recharging their batteries,” Bauer said.
The conservative activist and former Reagan administration policy advisor spoke for about 10 minutes before opening the floor for questions.
“We hear constantly about the threat to our well being is not another foreign power, but terrorism,” M.L. Lindon, an “Iowans for Sensible Priorities” activist from Des Moines, told Bauer. “We’re supposed to be wary of packages from Frankfurt, Germany and we’re supposed to be wary of traveling at this time of year. If elected, what are you going to do to combat terrorism in this world of ours.”
Bauer said federal authorities are hamstrung in their ability to track international terrorists planning attacks in the U.S.
“I think we’ve got to take a look at taking the restrictions off of the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency),” Bauer replied.
Afterwards in a question-and-answer session with reporters, Bauer said if he’s elected President, he’ll undue many of the restrictions which are undermining the morale of C.I.A. agents working abroad.
“I talked with Mr. Woolsey the other day, the former C.I.A. director, and you know, he’s very concerned about civil liberties issues, but he felt that there were a number of detail restrictions that had been put on the C.I.A. in the ’60s and ’70s and even the beginning years of the Clinton Administration which were making it harder for them to collect data on foreign terrorists,” Bauer said.
During his town hall meeting, Bauer spoke against gay marriage and federal guarantees, which ensure equal spending on male and female collegiate athletes.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Bauer said. “First of all, there are more men interested in playing competitive sports even in 1999 in college than there is women. Plus, in certain sports like football and basketball, those are high-price sports that require a lot more dollars.
“So, the result is, a lot of universities have had to shut down male programs because it’s the only way that they could get the figures in line to satisfy some federal bureaucrat,” Bauer said.
Before leaving the meeting room, Bauer read and then signed a petition calling for a federal rules change in what’s called Title 9, so that equal opportunity for men and women athletes will no longer be judged by how much colleges and universities spend on various sports programs.
Bauer held another meeting in Iowa City Wednesday afternoon and he plans campaign events in five other cities in Iowa on Thursday.