Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes

Fiery orator and two-time presidential candidate

Alan Keyes
is prepared to leave the Republican Party behind if leaders, including rival candidate

George W. Bush,
weaken their anti-abortion position.

The Constitution Party,
formerly known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, opened its arms to the former ambassador, saying he could be considered a running-mate for its candidate, Howard Phillips.

Constitution Party presidential candidate Howard Phillips

“I have been in public affairs long enough to know that everything is fluid, so I would be prepared to discuss that. But I am also prepared to continue running,” Phillips told the Associated Press.

Keyes spokeswoman, Connie Hair, said the ambassador would switch parties if Bush chooses a running mate who does not agree with Keyes’ pro-life views. Another factor in his decision will be the Republican Party’s platform as it is adopted at the upcoming convention in Philadelphia.

If the GOP softens its stance on calling for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, the Constitution Party will gain Keyes’ membership.

The Constitution Party is on the ballot in 30 states, though Phillips thinks that total will be 45 by November.

USA Today reported
Keyes’ possible party switch in a report Monday, however the Constitution Party said “there are a couple of things in the article that are not factually correct.”

Party spokesman Greg Moeller issued a statement correcting the report, saying it “suggests that Howard Phillips would readily step down to make way for Alan Keyes to be our presidential candidate. This is not the case. As verified by a conversation with him this morning, Howard Phillips remains pledged to the Party to continue in the race through the election. This item apparently was mistakenly concluded from a quote of Howard’s: ‘I’m open to discussing anything he would want to. …'”

Additionally, the USA Today report indicated Phillips is the chairman of the Constitution Party, when in fact, Jim Clymer holds that title.

“If Ambassador Keyes were to come and join our efforts, I am sure he would, like all of us, be working to advance our party, its candidates and our constitutional agenda,” Moeller continued. “In addition, considering him as a possible vice-presidential option might take place. However, the final decision regarding vice-presidential replacement will be in the hands of the Constitution Party National Committee which next meets in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend.”

Hair, who said any decision by Keyes to leave the GOP would be “heartbreaking,” said the candidate would make the switch only “after exhausting all of his mental energy in trying to get the Republican Party to do the right thing.”

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Will Conservatives abandon Bush?

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