Three airplanes full of Utah Republicans fly off Saturday to New Orleans where 26 delegates, 26 alternates, families and friends will celebrate Vice President George Bush's nomination for president.
Friday night those who hadn't already left for the Republican National Convention gathered at the Governor's Mansion for a party hosted by Gov. Norm Bangerter and his wife, Colleen. Both Bangerters are delegates.Bangerter told those gathered that the convention will provide the catalyst for Republican enthusiasm across the nation and in Utah.
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, attended although he is not a delegate. "I have been to a number of national conventions and I wanted to give someone else a chance to be a delegate this year."
Garn gave a preview of what a number of Republicans will be saying in New Orleans. "Don't be fooled. The Democrats are running the phoniest campaign I've seen in 21 years in politics. Michael Dukakis is an ultraliberal just like George McGovern and Fritz Mondale before him. We Republicans have to show him for what he is."
The Deseret News interviewed delegates to obtain their opinions of Bush, who he should pick for vice president and what the party platform should say. But before their analyses, here's a look at the GOP delegation itself:
- All members are Bush supporters - without a Bob Dole, Jack Kemp or Pat Robertson delegate among them, said Craig Moody, GOP state chairman.
The Utah Democratic delegation that went to Atlanta last month was mostly for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, but it had three Jesse Jackson delegates who - for a time - worried the Dukakis leaders about what they'd do. No disharmony will appear among the Utah Republicans, however.
_ Also unlike the Democratic delegation, the Utah GOP delegation is made up mostly of party veterans. A notable exception is the youngest GOP delegate in the nation, Steve Densley Jr. of Provo.
While the Democratic delegation reflected, in part, a changing of the guard in that party's makeup, more than half the Republican delegation consists of old-line party loyalists.
_ Gov. Bangerter is the delegation chairman. Moody is the working chairman. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is a delegate. So is former state GOP chairman Chuck Akerlow and former U.S. Education Secretary T.H. Bell. Alex Hurtado, a long-time GOP worker is going, as is Jon Huntsman Jr., whose father briefly challenged Bangerter for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Former state Sen. Chick Bullen and former Utah House Rep. Frances Hatch Merrill (Hatch's sister) are delegates.
So is Bonnie Stephens, Bush's Utah campaign co-chairman and sister of Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. Richard Snelgrove, who is running against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, this year, is a delegate and will no doubt seek monetary and moral support from national Republicans at the convention. Utah Power & Light Co. lobbyist and former GOP state legislator Doug Sonntag is a delegate, as is Carol Clark, an aide to Bangerter.
_ Even though the delegates are united in supporting Bush for president, they disagree widely on whom they think he should pick as his running mate.
Of 16 delegates questioned, six preferred Kansas Sen. Robert Dole; Four want New York Rep. Jack Kemp; former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole (Robert Dole's wife) received 1.5 votes; California Gov. George Deukmejian received 1.5; former White House chief of staff Howard Baker received 1; national security adviser Colin Powell received 1; and one delegate was undecided.
Those supporting Bob Dole include Hatch and Akerlow. They say Dole has the experience and national stature to be a good vice president and balance the ticket.
Kemp supporters such as Densley say he could help win California _ his native state _ and New York _ his adopted state. Doris Wilson, an aide to Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said her work with Kemp in Congress has shown him to be "straight forward and he knows where he's coming from on issues." And Utah Education Association President James Campbell supports Kemp because he sought endorsements from the National Education Association.
Congressional candidate Snelgrove was the only delegate totally supporting Elizabeth Dole, but Bangerter split his preference for her with Deukmejian. But other delegates openly criticize possibly nominating a woman. Akerlow said, "Selecting a woman could be seen by some as a gimmick. And the two top women (Elizabeth Dole and Jeane Kirkpatrick) have never won an elected office. We're so far behind we can't afford a slip up (that experience in an election could bring)."
Bullen supported Baker because of his long government service, and Stephens supported Powell because "he would make a good president and is black _ and that would be good for the party."
When delegates were asked what Bush's strongest points are in the upcoming election, they listed his experience as vice president, CIA director and ambassador to China and the United Nations; his commitment to family and moral values; and that he is a moderate.
Delegates said his greatest weaknesses included that he is a moderate; that he must step out from Ronald Reagan's shadow; and that he has attracted bad press.
Bell, who was in Reagan's cabinet for four years with Bush, said, "I can't understand why he gets the bad press he does. He is a wholesome family man, has a good sense of humor, and is splendid, bright and personable."
When delegates were asked what sort of statement the party platform should make about taxes, all but one who responded said it should call for no tax increase at all. Campbell was the lone exception, and said the party should support a tax increase if needed to decrease the national deficit.
Following is a list of Republican delegates and alternates:
Delegates at-large: Chuck Akerlow, Colleen Bangerter, Norm Bangerter, Carol Clark, Brian Hatch, Orrin Hatch, Jon Huntsman Jr., Alex Hurtado, Randall Mackey, Wilbern McDougal, Craig Moody, Jack Roberts, Richard Snelgrove, Douglas Sonntag, Gordon D. Walker, Doris Wilson, T.H. Bell.
District 1 delegates: DeLonne Anderson, Charles Bullen, David D. Fowers. District 1 alternates: Michael L. Jones, Jeffrey Droubray, Paul Skeen.
District 2 delegates: Zenda Hull, Frances Hatch Merrill, Bonnie Stephens. District 2 alternates: Gregory Hopkins, Amanda Pahnke, Holly Rowe.
District 3 delegates: James Campbell, Steve Densley Jr., Carol Drake. District 3 alternates: Bruce R. Hough, Lavinia Ludlow Kanig; Ron Tiffany.
At-large alternates: William Arseneau, William E. Bradshaw, Gary A. Cook, Edward S. Crawford, Steve Ellsworth, D. Wilson Hales, Lisa Hurtado, Eric Jergenson, Michael Martin, Georgia Hare, Nancy Pearl NeSmith, Glade Nielsen, Devon Olsen, Bud Scruggs, Dean Stephens, Cathy Arentz, Margaret Anderson.