Conservatives Say Changes Needed in Bush White House
WASHINGTON — JUST days before the Republican National Convention, conservatives are increasingly restless with George Bush.
Burton Pines, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, sums up the feelings of many on the GOP's right wing.
"Three boos for Bill Clinton," he says. "Two boos for George Bush."
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Mr. Pines along with two other leaders of the conservative movement, Richard Viguerie and Brent Bozell, called for President Bush to reinvigorate his campaign with conservative ideas.
They also spelled out what they indicated was a betrayal of conservative values during the first three years of the Bush administration. Among those betrayals, they said:
Bush inherited a booming economy from Ronald Reagan, then killed it; Bush raised taxes - the biggest single increase in history - after promising he would oppose all higher taxes; Bush claimed to support school choice, but failed to follow through; Bush was slow to recognize the independence of the former Soviet states; and Bush still embraces the Communist leaders in China.
The conservative leaders call for Bush to make several quick moves to invigorate the conservative Republicans and Reagan Democrats who were the keys to GOP victories in the 1980s.
At the top of the agenda, they want Bush to fire his budget director, Richard Darman, and his Treasury Secretary, Nicholas Brady, who have presided over the economic decline.
They would also like to see conservatives with powerful economic ideas, such as Jack Kemp, put into positions of greater power in the Bush White House.
Mr. Viguerie, who has raised millions of dollars for conservative causes, says: "I do not know the name of one conservative who is enthusiastic about George Bush."
Conservatives, who were the spark plugs of the Reagan campaigns, may sit on their hands during this year's race.
"I think he [Bush] is close to dead unless he does drastic things," Pines says. "I don't think he can beat Bill Clinton."