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Keyes Blasts Smith for Leaving GOP

July 18, 1999

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) _ Presidential hopeful Alan Keyes said Saturday he isn’t all that happy with the Republican Party, but is even more unhappy with Sen. Bob Smith, who bolted from the GOP.

Keyes, a conservative Republican talk show host and former Reagan administration official, blasted the New Hampshire senator, who declared himself an independent after charging that the GOP had betrayed conservatives by softening its stances on abortion and gun control.

Keyes said conservatives should focus on changing the party rather than leaving.

While conservatives shouldn’t support a hollowed-out party, they also shouldn’t abandon lightly the moral and political capital that generations of Republicans have built up, he told about 40 supporters.

Keyes, whose own views put him in direct competition with Smith for the more conservative voters in the GOP, charged that by leaving, Smith is dividing conservative power and influence, making it easier for Democrats and more moderate Republicans to win office.

``(Voters) won’t show up when it really counts,″ Keyes said. ``We need to concentrate our attention and our focus, and a third party is not the way.

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