WASHINGTON, June 4 (AP) - Despite disagreeing with George W. Bush on
abortion, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge said Sunday it would be "my
responsibility to back him up" if asked to be Bush's running mate.
"I think my job is to be supportive of Governor Bush," Ridge said on ``Fox
News Sunday," when asked whether he would continue speaking out for
abortion rights if he joined the ticket. "I think it's pretty well
documented ... that we disagree on that issue.
"But in terms of his support as our national leader of that point of view,
it'd be my responsibility to back him up even though I think people would
know we disagree with that," said Ridge, a Republican in his second term.
Bush, the likely GOP nominee for president, favors abortion only in cases of
rape, incest or to save the woman's life. Ridge, also a Republican, backs
abortion rights but opposes a certain type of late-term abortion.
Ridge, who Bush has said is under consideration for the No. 2 job, has urged
the party to remove strict anti-abortion language from its platform. Bush
has said he does not want to amend the language, but realizes Republicans
will disagree on the issue.
In 1980, Bush's father, George Bush, an abortion rights supporter, adopted
Ronald Reagan's anti-abortion stance after joining Reagan on the Republican
Asked whether he would follow suit, Ridge said: "My job is to support the
public posture of the president of the United States."
Others disagreed on the prospect of Ridge as the Republicans' pick for vice
Former Republican and Reform Party presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan said
such a step would mark "the beginning of the end" of the GOP.
"I think if (Bush) did do that he would permanently split the Republican
Party. He would make the Republican Party basically indifferent on the issue
of life," Buchanan said on Fox.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former GOP presidential contender who shares
Bush's views on abortion, noted that Bush said he would not subject
potential running mates to any litmus test.
"The criteria is who can best serve as president of the United States," he
said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I believe that there should not be any
single reason for him to be disqualified."