Walking the Plank

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The GOP's internal debate over abortion heated up when California Governor Pete Wilson said Monday that he would work with New York and New Jersey governors to remove the anti-abortion plank from the party's platform at the Republican national convention. The words put Bob Dole's California campaign manager at odds with the GOP nominee. Dole has said he has no intention of changing the Republican platform in regards to abortion. Wilson dropped this political bomb on the putative nominee during a Washington visit to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on affirmative action. He said the Republican's stated goal of passing a Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion was unrealistic and would only hurt the party. "We should in fact put the plank to one side and simply go on with our business," said Wilson. While the comments stirred new questions of conflict within the Republican party ranks, a member of the Wilson Administration in Sacramento preferred to blame the reporter who talked to Wilson, insisting that there was "absolutely nothing new" in today's remarks, says TIME's Jordan Bonfante. "In Sacramento, Wilson's statement was seen as a renewal of his long-held position on abortion," says Bonfante, "not as a vow to fight to lead the charge to remove the language from the GOP platform. In the past Wilson was opposed to the anti-abortion plank, but he has never tried to mount a big active campaign against it." Nevertheless, Wilson's timing in underscoring his position during a campaign strategy meeting with Dole can hardly be viewed as helpful by the GOP nominee.