Thursday, May 04, 2006

Falling Backwards

Anybody remember Gary Bauer? Sure you do -- he was the director of the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and later the president of the Family Research Council. Bauer, who was born on this day in 1946 in Covington, Kentucky, entered the 2000 Republican presidential primaries as a virtual unknown, hoping to recreate and build upon the anti-abortion "Christian conservative" base that had given Pat Robertson his brief boost in 1988. In 2000, however, the "right wing" of the Party was already well-represented by Gov. George W. Bush, the son of the former president, and Alan Keyes, who had made a run in 1996.

Bauer had trouble attracting much attention, and turned his strategy to attacking his fellow conservatives -- most notably Alan Keyes. At a youth-oriented campaign appearance during the Iowa caucus in January 2000, Keyes had playfully fallen backwards off of a flatbed truck into a mosh pit where students were dancing to a song by Rage Against the Machine. In a subsequent public debate in New Hampshire, when candidates were obliged to direct questions to each other, Bush decided to throw his question away by grinningly asking Keyes what it was like to be in a mosh pit. "It's a lot of fun, actually," Keyes replied -- whereupon Bauer interrupted to denounce Keyes' behavior, arguing that Rage Against the Machine's music is "anti-family, anti-cop and pro-terrorist" and that Keyes should consider apologizing to the families of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado (April 20, 1999) for taking part in a rally featuring music that had been listened to by the Columbine perpetrators. Keyes replied that he wasn't aware of the music that was playing, and that he fell into the mosh pit merely to show "the kind of trust in people that is the heart and soul of the Keyes campaign."

A few days later, at another New Hampshire event, Bauer himself fell backwards off of a stage while participating in a pancake flipping contest, albeit accidentally. He polled less than 1% of the vote in New Hampshire (while Keyes polled 6%), and shortly thereafter terminated his candidacy.

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