Freedom Writer - April 1995
Gramm's no cracker
By Skipp Porteous
Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, a leading contender for the Republican
presidential nomination, is no dummy.
Bolstered by a barrel of cash and armed with a plan to win, Gramm
is among the Republican presidential candidates who fully embrace
the agenda of the radical Religious Right. Others include commentator
Pat Buchanan and Congressman Bob Dornan of California. Of the three,
Gramm has the greatest chance of securing the Republican presidential
Kansas Senator Bob Dole is the current leader. In interviews with
"60 Minutes" and The New York Times, former Texas governor Ann Richards
predicted that Gramm will out-distance Dole and become the Republican
nominee. Richards bases her hunch on the fact that Gramm has the money
to run a successful campaign.
Gramm launched his campaign with more than $5 million left over from
previous Senate campaigns. In recent fundraising events he quickly
doubled that amount.
Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said,
"In the Bible of campaign politics it says, 'In the beginning was
the word, and the word was money.'" Without a substantial amount of
it, no one can become president. In fact, since 1976 -- with the exception
of Gov. John B. Connally of Texas in 1980 -- the candidate who raised
the most money during the pre-election year won the nomination.
Gramm, appearing a good ten years older than his 52 years, is still
almost 20 years younger than Dole. At 71, Dole's age is seen as his
main handicap to securing the nomination.
A keynote speaker at the Christian Coalition's annual Road to Victory
conventions in 1993 and 1994, Gramm received a 100% rating in the
Christian Coalition's voter guides. The voter guides are intended
to help conservative Christians know which candidates champion their
cause. Gramm's top rating indicates his full support of the Religious
Although Gramm is an Episcopalian, he sounds more like a Christian
fundamentalist. At the 1993 Road to Victory, Gramm colorfully described
his mission in Washington: "I view my work here as doing the Lord's
work in the Devil's city."
Last September, Gramm told the Christian Coalition delegates, "I have
even heard that the Democrats are now resorting to prayer in hopes
of escaping a devastating defeat in November. But let me let them
in on a secret," he said. "I do not believe that the Lord is on their
side." (Tell that to former President Jimmy Carter. Published reports
say that Carter prayed for a victory for the Democrats, and that "people
like" Newt Gingrich and Oliver North would be defeated.)
Received enthusiastically at the Christian Coalition convention, Gramm
closed the talk with his own prayer. "Dear Lord, if you give us control
of our government again, this time we won't waste it."
Opposed to abortion and affirmative action, Gramm says he is the only
leading candidate who was "conservative before conservative was cool."
Gramm also opposes gays in the military and made homosexuality an
issue in his 1984 Senate campaign. During the primary, his rival,
Lloyd Doggett, accepted a contribution from a San Antonio gay group
which raised the money by sponsoring a strip show. Gramm took him
to task for this and subsequently won the election.
Besides the Christian Coalition, other radical conservative groups
hold Gramm in high regard. One, Liberty Lobby, publishes a weekly
tabloid called _The_Spotlight_. According to the Anti-Defamation League,
_The_Spotlight_ is "the nation's leading anti-Semitic propagandists."
In its February 27, 1995 issue, _The_Spotlight_ published an exclusive
interview with Gramm.
"Your influence counts so much," _The_Spotlight_ told its readers,
"that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) -- a major contender for the Republican
presidential nomination -- has embraced the major principles of Liberty
Lobby, publisher of _The_Spotlight_."
According the article, Gramm said, "I can balance the budget without
a tax hike; I won't seek reelection if I don't balance the budget."
He also said he would like to abolish the federal income tax and "eliminate
IRS intrusion in our lives -- a great plus." He didn't explain how
he would balance the budget without collecting federal income taxes.
Since the beginning of the year, Gramm came up the winner by wide
margins in non-binding Republican straw polls in Louisiana, Texas,
and Arizona. While these polls offer no guarantee of a place on the
presidential ticket, combined with large sums of early money, they
establish Gramm's campaign as a formidable one.
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