Archive for Thursday, July 20, 2000

Kansan dark horse for VP nomination

July 20, 2000


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback appears to be a longshot possibility to be the Republican vice presidential candidate.

A group of 11 conservative House Republicans endorsed him recently in a letter to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the presumed Republican presidential nominee.

Brownback, they wrote, "is the personification of a 'compassionate conservative.'"

But in a conference call Wednesday with Kansas reporters, Brownback downplayed his chances of being on the Bush ticket.

"I don't know if I am on any list," Brownback said. "I think there are better candidates than me: Elizabeth Dole, Bill Bennett. But I am pleased that I am mentioned because the issues I support are important."

Kansas Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Wichita, was among Brownback's supporters.

"I'm not alone in this," Tiahrt said. "When we came to the House in '94, we stood for the same things: Downsizing the federal government, strengthening families. He's tried to stand up for things that are good and healthy for our society."

Brownback also has gained support from syndicated Newsday columnist James Pinkerton, a former policy adviser to President Bush. In a July 13 article, Pinkerton made the case that the younger Bush should be looking to bring morality to the ticket and that Brownback, a 43-year-old father of five, may be the ideal messenger.

The same day, in the Campaigns & Elections magazine, political oddsmakers gave Brownback 50-to-1 odds to earn the vice presidential selection.

"Rising star in the party with strong media skills," the report read. "But virtually unknown outside Kansas."

In Washington and the rest of the nation, Brownback has been perceived as a kinder and gentler conservative in his work to curb violence in music, video games and throughout American media, along the same lines as the compassionate conservatism espoused by Bush.

In Kansas, Brownback has been involved in controversies surrounding the Kansas Board of Education's evolution decision and comments he made about Social Security and abortion in 1999.

Other names mentioned for the post include Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, Nebraska Sen. Charles Hagel, Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, Ohio Congressmen John Kasich and New York Gov. George Pataki.

Bush is expected to make a decision in the coming week.

"I am sure Gov. Bush will make a wise choice and it will probably come soon," Brownback said.

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