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Anti-Abortion Group To Back Bush

February 8, 2000

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A board member of South Carolina Citizens for Life resigned Monday over the group’s pending endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush.

Dan Griffith said Monday that he believed the board was coerced into supporting Bush by its parent organization, the National Right to Life Committee, at a meeting Saturday.

``In the name of integrity, I cannot lend my support to the use of coercion to effect an endorsement decision,″ Griffith’s resignation letter said.

President Deborah Bian-Lingle did not return several messages left at her home.

Griffith said the Bush endorsement and ads would be announced Wednesday. Executive Director Holly Gatling said a news conference was planned that day to announce new ads, but she would not reveal the subject. She denied that the board was pressured to endorse Bush.

National Right to Life Committee officials could not be reached for comment.

Griffith said he had to leave Saturday’s board meeting early and did not get to officially cast his vote against the endorsement. He said he is concerned about the Texas governor’s unwillingness to say that as president he would require his judicial nominees to oppose abortion. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, another GOP presidential contender, also has refused to agree to pledge the same.

He said two National Right to Life Committee staffers attended the meeting and attempted to sell the board on Bush.

Griffith, who has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes and worked for GOP candidate Pat Buchanan in 1996, said his personal political preferences were not a factor in his decision to quit the anti-abortion group. Rather, he said it was the ``method the organization has used in propagating its position on other candidates″ and the ``method in which the endorsement decision was brought about″ that forced his resignation.

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