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HEADLINE: CONFLICT IN THE BALKANS: THE REPUBLICANS;
In the Presidential Race, Hopefuls Split Over Attacks
BYLINE: By RICHARD L. BERKE
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, March 26
Republican Presidential hopefuls are deeply divided over whether the United States should play any role in Serbia, and most accused President Clinton of a misguided foreign policy that led to this country's entanglement there.
In interviews and public statements, about half the contenders said they support the bombing. They are Senator John McCain of Arizona; Elizabeth Dole, the former president of the American Red Cross; Steve Forbes, the publishing magnate, and former Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
Those who opposed American involvement are former Vice President Dan Quayle; Representative John R. Kasich of Ohio; Senator Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire; Patrick J. Buchanan, the conservative commentator, and Gary Bauer, the religious conservative.
The early favorite for the Republican nomination, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, was the last contender to stake out a position, and his is the most nuanced. Mr. Bush said American troops deserve full support, but he stopped short of endorsing or condemning the decision for air strikes.
"Now that the President has committed to use force, I hope he will do so decisively and successfully," Mr. Bush said in his statement, adding that "the ultimate question is: will this military action lead to the goal of ending the conflict and bringing peace and stability to the region?"
Mr. Bush and Mrs. Dole, who lead the Republican field in the early polls, were the only contenders who declined to be interviewed to discuss their positions. Mrs. Dole issued only a brief statement, saying the President's action "can be instrumental in forging a peaceful solution to a dangerous, escalating military conflict." Mr. Bush, in addition to his statement, took questions about the matter at a news conference in Texas on Thursday.
While Mr. Bush and Mrs. Dole were careful not to criticize Mr. Clinton, most other Republicans on both sides -- after offering their support for Americans sent into action -- showed no hesitation to fault the Administration.
Governor Bush released a statement only after some candidates criticized him for not being forthcoming. "This is about war and peace and life and death," Mr. Buchanan said of Mr. Bush. "I don't think you can declare a moratorium on discussing matters of this magnitude if you presume to lead the United States of America into the 21st century." Mr. Buchanan said he opposed American involvement because "this is an ugly civil war on the Balkan peninsula where no vital American interests are engaged."
At his news conference, Mr. Bush was vague when asked whether he agreed with Mr. Clinton's rationale for the bombing. "My question is, 'Is it good for America?' " he asked. "And that'll be the question I'll ask should I end up being the President. Right now as Governor, I'm going to go figure out how to get a tax cut through."
Is Bush a hypocrite? No, just a REPUBLICAN.
(switched title to Serbia, which is less ambiguous...)