Race for the Presidency
Alan Keyes

While other GOP candidates debate the merits of compassionate conservatism, Alan Keyes forcefully argues for hard-line positions that he sees as true Republican conservative ideals.


The Candidate
Born: Aug. 7, 1950, in New York City. Father's army career kept family on the move. Keyes lived in New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Missouri and Italy. He won a national oratorical competition while in high school. Now lives in Maryland.

Education: Briefly attended Cornell University. One friend remembers Keyes received death threats for opposing Vietnam War protesters who seized a campus building. Keyes earned a bachelor's degree in 1972 and a Ph.D. in 1979 from Harvard University. Both degrees were in government affairs.

Family: Married wife Jocelyn in 1981. They have three children.

Down time: Enjoys opera and likes to watch westerns, action movies or "Star Trek" reruns on television.

International affairs: Joined U.S. Foreign Service in 1979. Met wife in Bombay, India, while serving as embassy vice consul. Appointed U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council in 1983 and served as assistant secretary of state for international organizations from 1985 to 1987. Became Reagan administration's chief spokesman on South Africa policy.

Political life: Ran unsuccessfully for Maryland's U.S. Senate seat in 1988 and 1992. Campaigned for Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.

Making waves: Aired his conservative views on a nationally syndicated radio talk-show from 1994 to 1999.

Gifted speaker who loves to spar with opponents and fellow Republicans over issues. Even took on a moderator at a Republican debate in Iowa in January 2000. Mixes fire-and-brimstone delivery with a professorial intellect. Tends to see problems in stark, black-and-white terms. While some voters admire Keyes as a speaker, most find his positions too far to the right.

Staunch Conservative
Considered extreme in his political philosophy, Keyes says that, if elected president, he would:

* End welfare system.
* Ban gays in the military.
* Prohibit abortion except to save a woman's life.
* Replace current income tax system with national sales tax.
* Close U.S. Education Department and ban sex education in schools.

Keyes has endorsed public paddling of parents who desert their children.

God & Country
Sees erosion in religious faith as leading cause behind America's moral decay and breakdown of the family. Not afraid to inject religious conviction into political debate. He calls homosexuality "an abomination" and takes a firm stand against gay marriages.

A devout Catholic, Keyes' message resonates most with Christian conservatives.

Loyal Support
Has committed supporters who believe Keyes can push moral issues to forefront of Republican Party politics. Keyes believes his supporters represent the heart of the party.

Fiercely loyal volunteers devote long hours to his cause. His appeal among voters has slowly grown, and he now usually attracts crowds in the hundreds to his campaign events. As for Americans who won't vote for him because they think he cannot win, he has said they are "either very stupid or they're insincere."

Campaign Finance
By early 2000, Keyes had raised $3.56 million in campaign contributions. Although he had taken in much less than Republican front-runners Texas Gov. George Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain, Keyes did better than anyone expected in the New Hampshire primary and scored a respectable third place in the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Has proposed a bold plan for campaign finance reform: Allow only people who can vote to contribute as much as they want, remove limits on campaign spending and require full disclosure.

Race Issues
A foe of race-based affirmative action, Keyes says he may have benefited from such programs in college, although he calls that point "irrelevant."

"There were a lot of people who benefited from segregation. Did that mean that they should have supported its perpetuation? Once you know that something is an injustice, you move to stop it," he said.

Keyes has criticized the news media for what he calls institutional prejudice, complaining that outlets have repeatedly left his name out of news stories because they can't adjust to a black politician who is a conservative Republican. He has accused the media of waging "a blackout to keep the black out."

Conventional Wisdom
Political experts and pundits think Keyes has no chance of winning the Republican nomination. So why does he run?

Most think he wants to push his moral agenda within the Republican Party. Keyes told reporters after one Iowa appearance, "I take great pleasure and pride in the fact that the other candidates are, yes, learning how to talk about these serious issues from me."

But other skeptics wonder if Keyes' is simply using his candidacy to boost his paid public speaking marketability.


Related Links

Keyes Points
Keyes campaign news and positions on the issues, from Keyes 2000

Grand Old Party
Republican Party activities, news and positions, from Republican National Committee

Campaign Finance
Keep track of contributions to Keyes' campaign, from Center for Responsive Politics

Party Gathering
The road to the Republican Convention, from philly.com

The Oval Office
Insights on past U.S. presidents, from C-SPAN

Campaign 2000
Election features and updates, from Real Cities


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Producer: Chuck Myers/KRT
Designer: Adam Mark/KRT
Photography: William Snyder of The Dallas Morning News/KRT; Michael Bryant of The Philadelphia Inquirer/KRT

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