WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes, who came in sixth in the Iowa caucuses, does not plan to follow fifth-place finisher Phil Gramm out of the contest, a Keyes spokesman said.
Marylander Keyes will continue his bid for office until “the very end,” said his press secretary, Edmund Peterson.
“We’re thinking about the presidency and nothing else,” Peterson said.
Gramm, a Texas senator, dropped out of the presidential contest Wednesday, acknowledging that voters were not behind him. Peterson said Gramm’s departure has shifted the dynamics of the race in Keyes’ favor.
“A lot of Gramm people are going to support us now,” Peterson said. “That is critical. It keeps splitting the vote. … eventually, in our favor.”
Not all agree.
Ellen Sauerbrey, the 1994 Republican gubernatorial nominee and Gramm’s chairwoman in Maryland, said she had not decided who she will back.
“I’ve spent the last year breaking my back for Phil Gramm. … It’s a little difficult to make an instantaneous decision about who I am going to support now,” Sauerbrey said.
She said she knew of no Gramm supporters in Maryland who are now supporting Keyes.
Del Ali, vice president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc., predicted the “economic conservatives” who had backed Gramm would go to Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole of Kansas and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. They placed first and third in Iowa.
Gramm’s “social conservatives,” would shift to commentator Patrick Buchanan, Ali said.
“They don’t want to waste their votes,” he said.
However, Peterson said Keyes’ “grass-roots campaign” will surprise the political pundits with a strong showing in New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday.
Keyes received about 7 percent of Republicans’ votes in the Iowa caucuses.
“When all is said and done,” predicted Mason-Dixon’s Ali, “he’ll probably get 1 or 2 percent in New Hampshire.”
Bill Frenzel, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, said the Keyes campaign may be able to keep on operating because of its small budget.
According to a report filed Jan. 31 with the Federal Election Commission, the Keyes campaign raised $1.4 million in contributions in 1995 and spent $1.36 million.
Keyes raised more than 80 percent of his campaign money from individuals giving less than $200, said Joshua Goldstein, research director at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The Keyes campaign had $49,122 in the bank Dec. 31 and reported a $273,978 debt.
Dole, by comparison, raised about $25.2 million in 1995, his FEC report showed. He spent about $20.8 million.
At the end of 1995, Dole had a debt of $759,480 and had about $4.35 million in the bank, his report showed.
Keyes’ spokesman said the campaign did not expect to spend a lot of money in New Hampshire.
“We didn’t spend any money on TV ads in Iowa and we haven’t spent any in New Hampshire, either,” Peterson said. “I’ve been told that we may spend not more than $43,000. … We have a very low budget and we’re going to be working very efficiently.”
Paul Herrnson, associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, said no matter how Keyes fares in the election, he will have succeeded in bringing his platform to the forefront of the GOP debate.
“The chances for Alan Keyes’ success are enormous because he is really running for issues, not to be elected,” Herrnson said.
The cornerstone of the Keyes’ campaign for moral values is the premise that all social problems can be traced to the breakdown of “the marriage-based, two-parent family.”
Bill Frenzel, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, said the issues Keyes has focused on are being addressed by other candidates.
“He has come across as the most aggressive opponent of abortion,” Frenzel said. “There are a lot of people against abortion.”
Herrnson also speculated that, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the past, Keyes’ goal is to speak at his party’s national convention and perhaps influence the direction of the party platform.
Peterson said such speculation is premature.
The “mainstream media” don’t understand, he said, “but our ultimate goal is the presidency. … The convention is still far off.” This is the first presidential bid for Keyes, 45, of Darnestown, a former assistant secretary of state. He made two unsuccessful bids for Maryland seats in the U.S. Senate, once in 1988 and again in 1992. -30-