In an extraordinary bit of political staging, six Republican women appeared before the Democratic convention Tuesday night. The women, who favor abortion rights, said they’ll be voting for Bill Clinton this fall.
“We have not abandoned our party. George Bush has abandoned us,” Kathy Taylor of Hershey, Pa., said in an address to convention delegates.
Taylor was flanked by five colleagues, from California, Oregon, Rhode Island and New Jersey, who she said would also vote Democratic this fall. “We do not stand alone,” she said.
Amid repeated bursts of cheers and applause, Taylor accused Bush of forming “an unholy political alliance with the most extreme anti-choice interest groups in America. . . . This Administration has taken the Republican Party away from its principles and down the path of political expedience, and we will not follow.”
Even as Clinton forces scheduled time for Taylor to speak, they were refusing to give her Democratic governor--Robert Casey of Pennsylvania--a few minutes of podium time to air his anti-abortion views.
“There’s no room,” Clinton communications director George Stephanopoulos said when asked why Casey was denied time.
Casey’s second request to speak was rebuffed Tuesday by the convention parliamentarian. “The gag rule lives,” Casey said. “So much for open debate and discussion.”
The abortion speech came after delegates voted noisily to adopt a 1992 platform that mirrors Clinton’s trademark mix of tradition and change and strongly reaffirms the party’s support for abortion rights.
Casey was among 35 signatories in a full-page New York Times ad Tuesday against “abortion on demand.” Other prominent Democrats included Sargent and Eunice Shriver and former New York Gov. Hugh Carey.
But Casey has few fellow travelers at the convention aside from delegates from heavily Roman Catholic Puerto Rico, who sat quietly during an enthusiastic abortion-rights floor demonstration. Convention spokesman Bill Carrick said fewer than a fifth of delegates dissent from the party position.
Republicans who favor abortion rights are trying to change their platform’s call for a constitutional amendment outlawing the procedure. But it’s unclear how far they’ll get at the GOP convention next month in Houston.
The Democratic platform adopted Tuesday reiterates the party’s longtime support for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights in addition to abortion rights. But in other ways it reflects Clinton’s concerted attempt to temper his party’s liberal image.
Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, co-chairman of the 186-member platform committee, described the document as a departure.
“It charts a new direction for the Democratic Party,” he said. “This platform contains bold, new ideas that combine our core values with the economic realities of the 1990s.”
The Democrats this year are stressing general economic growth rather than programs for specific groups. They pledge to uphold law and order and limit welfare to two years. They endorse the use of military force in certain circumstances. They call business “a noble endeavor.”
And they specifically disavow parts of their past.
“We reject both the do-nothing government of the last 12 years and the big-government theory that says we can hamstring business and tax and spend our way to prosperity,” the platform says.