New Castle, NH (CNS) - In his second day of a two-day swing through this first-in-the nation primary state, Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes refused to divulge how much of his personal fortune he will spend on his quest for the presidency but did say he will use own money to "level the playing field" with the well-financed campaign of Gov George W Bush.
During several campaign stops Forbes accused the Republican establishment and Washington lobbyists of actively working for the nomination of Texas Governor Bush and insisted that whatever of his own money he might spend will be to make the GOP nomination race a more competitive one.
Although Forbes does not specifically mention Bush unless asked, but when asked, the New Jersey resident responds strongly. "The big Washington lobbyists have showered money on the Bush campaign and the Republican establishment is trying to anoint him...All you can do is level the playing. My resources will be used to level the playing field."
"It's very clear the Republican establishment is trying to short circuit the process," he warned.
As for his own spending, Forbes insisted he is not trying to buy the presidency by outspending the opposition. However, financial disclosure reports, recently filed with the Federal Election Commission, show in the first six months of 1999, Forbes spent nearly $3 million on paid advertising.
To date, Forbes has spent $8.2 million, more than twice the amount spent by former Vice President Dan Quayle, the second largest spender, who has spent $3.2 million.
The filing shows Bush has spent only $1.2 million.
On the issues, while four years ago Forbes emphasized the economy, as he made his way across this state with a message of "hope, growth and prosperity," this time around the multimillionaire publisher has skewed to a more conservative path, insisting the next election is all about "the rebirth of freedom."
For Forbes, that rebirth includes "freedom to be born," a direct reference to his renewed pro-life emphasis; school choice; a patient's right to choose a doctor; investment choices for those wanting an option to Social Security and freedom from the Internal Revenue Service.
"It all ties together," he told voters.
Forbes also said he has not moved to the right, in an effort to appeal to social conservatives, a group, which were not a core support group in his 1996 race. Rather, he contends, he has always held conservative social views.
Addressing health care, Forbes plugged the need for medical savings accounts and added, "Workers in the federal government get to choose from hundreds of medical plans. Why shouldn't someone on Medicare have the same choices."
On taxes, Forbes continued to plug away at his flat tax, which he insists would provide freedom from the "Infernal Revenue Service."
Noting many people pay as much as 50 percent of their total income in federal, state and local taxes, Forbes asked, "Why are two family incomes needed now, when we used to get by on one? Because in a two income family, one is working for the family and the other is working to support the government."
Repeating his call for a flat tax, Forbes says the tax code is now 1,500 times the size of the U.S. Constitution and adds, "No one knows what's in it...it's time to kill it, bury it and hope it never rises again."
On Social Security, Forbes compared the Clinton-Gore team to honey and bears, who are all too eager to stick their paws into the honey jar, much as the administration has done in raiding the Social Security Trust Fund. Forbes said the time has come to offer young people an alternative to a system few believe will survive, while retaining the existing system for older Americans.
Forbes also had harsh words for the Washington establishment and his own party. "There is a feeling in the land that no matter what you do, the Washington political culture goes its own course. The American people can do something about it...in Washington they talk and talk and talk and do nothing positive."
As for his own party, Forbes said, "If the Republican Party does not offer a disciplined and principled message to the American people, we will again suffer the fate of the last several elections."
Then, turning to the Republican led Congress, Forbes contends, since the '96 election, "The party has lost its nerve...It must redefine the terms of the debate, before the opposition does it for us."
Forbes insists congressional Republicans have come to fear Clinton-Gore and the duo's ability to spin issues in their favor. Urging congressional Republicans to take a course in Government 101, Forbes advised, "Don't give it all away, before you even sit down to negotiate."