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Republicans Look to Barbara, and the Contrast with Hillary

August 19, 1992

HOUSTON (AP) _ Republicans look to Barbara Bush to bring to their convention a warm message tonight about love, family and home. The contrast with Hillary Clinton, they say, can only help the GOP.

″Let America see more of our first lady,″ advised delegate Wayne Holloman of Greenville, N.C. ″She epitomizes everything that Hillary Clinton is not.″

Convention officials have been portraying Mrs. Bush’s address to the convention - on family values night - as a major event. Just as the Republicans have criticized Mrs. Clinton for being seen as part of the Democratic ticket, some call Mrs. Bush the president’s secret weapon.

Just as adamantly, Mrs. Bush has tried to play down the speech’s importance.

″It’s not worth staying up for,″ she said en route to Houston. ″You’re not going to wake up Thursday morning and say, ’Wow 3/8‴ she said after she got here. ″You’re going to wake up and say, ’Huh?‴

Asked to reflect on the political role of political wives, some delegates said that, like it or not, a president’s spouse is important.

″The home life for a president has a distinct effect on a president’s ability to give all of his time and efforts to the country,″ said Maida Pearson of Memphis.

Others weren’t so sure.

″This is nonsense as far as I’m concerned,″ said Faye Sickel of DeValls Bluff, Ark. ″They’re not running.″

But Stuart Spiller, a delegate from Hobbs, N.M., said Mrs. Clinton’s views are an issue in this campaign because she is so outspoken.

″I do think it’s a legitimate point to question how much influence she might have on her husband,″ Spiller said. A wife, he added, is ″a very powerful, liberal voice in (a) president’s ear.″

Added Peggy Lambert of Maryville, Tenn.: ″If Hillary Clinton wants to be high profile, if she wants to stick her head up, she’s going to get shot.″

In their comments, some delegates left no question about their scorn for Mrs. Clinton, who would be the first president’s wife to have a law degree and the first to reach the White House after a professional career. She is a partner in a Little Rock, Ark., law firm.

″She is too ambitious,″ said Karen Pearson of Dundee, Ore.

″She has too big of a mouth,″ said Patty Stallings of Portland, Ore.

And religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, in his address to the convention Tuesday night, called Mrs. Bush ″a gracious lady, a devoted wife, a dedicated mother, and a caring grandmother″ and said: ″No one can convince me that the American people are so blind that they would replace Barbara Bush with Hillary Clinton.″

On the previous night, Patrick Buchanan called Mrs. Clinton a practitioner of ″radical feminism″ who with her husband would impose ″abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat.″

But Mrs. Bush herself has consistently dismissed the criticism of Mrs. Clinton as unfair. In a comment on ABC-TV Tuesday night, she said, ″I’m jealous of Hillary. That’s great that she got to do all that.″

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