Which is the real GOP

Will the real Republican Party please stand up?

After watching the GOP convention this week, one is left wondering what the Republicans stand for.

The prime-time speakers — determined to dispel the mean-spirited messages of Houston in '92 — sounded welcoming, friendly and inclusive. On the other hand, the party platform sounded belligerent, intolerant and very Christian right.

How is a voter to know which characteristics would triumph if Dole is elected?

The choice of Dole vs. Clinton may be especially hard for those Jewish voters who are conservative on economics but more moderate on social issues.

While such Jews may applaud Dole's economic plan, they may be repelled by the GOP's stance in favor of school prayer and opposed to abortion and immigrant rights.

Ralph Reed and his Christian Coalition proudly proclaimed their control of the GOP platform committee. And they produced a document designed to tear down the barriers separating church and state.

Some Jewish Republicans argue that the platform is meaningless, with little sway over the electorate. Voters elect a candidate, not a platform.

But the ability of the Christian Coalition to wrest control of the platform from Dole's forces surely must raise some questions about who controls the GOP.

Is the GOP Gen. Colin Powell who spoke of inclusiveness and tolerance and voiced his support for affirmative action and a women's right to choose? Is it New York Rep. Susan Molinari, 3-month-old daughter in tow, who aired the concerns of working women? Or is it the many delegates who booed Powell's remarks and kept California's moderate Republican Gov. Pete Wilson from speaking?

We can only hope that as campaign 1996 progresses, it will become clear who is running the Republican Party and how much power Dole has over it.

His selection of running mate Jack Kemp, a conservative with strong ties to the Jewish community who has demonstrated fierce support for Israel, bodes well for Jewish Republicans.

But if the Republican ticket is to garner more than its usual 30 percent of the Jewish vote, it will have to eradicate the image of a party for and about Christian, white, well-heeled America.

Dole and Kemp should make their values clear before November.