Abortion, Cold War Issues Hurting GOP, Brown Says

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Abortion and the Cold War, two issues that have been cornerstones of Republican Party policy, are pushing the pendulum of American public opinion away from the GOP and back to the Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown said Tuesday.

Speaking to 350 Democratic Party activists, Brown said that, although his party's strong position in favor of "a woman's right to choose" was helping elect Democrats, Republican candidates were being undermined by the Bush Administration's fierce opposition to abortion.

"I think George Bush has dug himself an incredibly deep hole that he's going to be unable to work his way out of," he told reporters afterward. "I think he's hurt Republican candidates. He's shown that they are a litmus test party on this issue."

Meanwhile, Brown attempted to disassociate his party from the Lincoln Savings & Loan Assn. scandal that has prompted a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of five senators, including Alan Cranston (D-Calif.).

"I don't think it has anything to do with the party. I don't think people make that connection at all," he said. "When people are under some kind of personal inquiry, I think that stands on its own."

Asked if Cranston should resign, Brown replied: "Absolutely not. Alan Cranston is a great United States senator."

Along with Cranston, the committee is investigating Sens. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio) to determine if they improperly intervened in a regulatory matter on behalf of a major contributor.

All five senators met with thrift regulators on different occasions to plead on behalf of Lincoln Savings, a troubled Irvine-based thrift. Lincoln's parent corporation, American Continental Corp. of Phoenix, went into bankruptcy last April, leaving an estimated 22,000 investors--many of them Southern California retirees--holding more than $200 million in worthless bonds.

A day after the bankruptcy, federal regulators seized control of Lincoln--a takeover that could cost taxpayers more than $2 billion.

American Continental board Chairman Charles H. Keating Jr. and his family contributed heavily to all five senators.

Brown, who was embarking on a fund-raising tour of the state, said the GOP's hawkish position on Cold War issues is suddenly out of sync with world events.

"The Republicans have been elected year after year after year based on this kind of Cold War mentality," he said. "But it looks like the Cold War is over. They don't have a whole lot to hang their hat on anymore."

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