Former Sen. Barry Goldwater, the father of modern conservatism and a Republican elder statesman, said Thursday that his party's strict anti-abortion stance threatens to leave the GOP in shambles.
In a letter made public in the U.S. capital Thursday, Goldwater said in referring to President Bush:
"If an attempt is made to include his position in the platform, my prophecy is the convention will go down in a shambles, as will the election.
"If the President believes that the introduction of his position before the platform committee at the convention will result in nothing but smooth going, he's as wrong as wrong can be," Goldwater said in the letter to Mary Crisp of the National Republican Coalition for Choice. The former Arizona senator is on the group's national advisory board.
Bush supports a woman's right to a legal abortion only in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother; the Republican Party platform endorses a strict constitutional ban on abortion.
The party's platform committee begins weighing revisions to the current platform in Houston on Monday--a week before the Republican National Convention. Bush has vowed that the document's abortion language will not be changed.
Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton supports abortion rights.
In New York on Wednesday, the President reiterated his strong opposition to abortion, referring to it as a "national tragedy." He pledged to continue his opposition, "no matter what the political price--and they tell me this year that it's enormous."
Bush has opposed abortion since 1980, when Ronald Reagan chose him as his vice presidential nominee.
Goldwater, 83, was the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 1964. He lost to Democratic incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.
Crisp, in a statement, said she had released Goldwater's letter, dated July 29, at his request. She added that in a recent telephone conversation, Goldwater told her: "If they don't remove that platform, he (Bush) will lose the election--and the party is a sinking ship."
"You have to say that he (Bush) is honest, he lets people know where he stands," Goldwater said in his letter to Crisp.
"But abortion is not something the Republican Party should call for the abolition of, by legal means or by any other means.
"There is no way in the world that abortion is going to be abolished. It has been going on ever since man and woman lived together on this earth," he said.