Kittery, Maine (CNSNews.com) - With the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard looming in the background, Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer called for a moratorium on the closing of more military bases.
"The Clinton-Gore years will be remembered historically as the American military decimation years, the years when a weak and unimaginative commander-in-chief ignored the American military and compromised America's national security."
"Closing more shipyards and military bases is not the way to rectify these incredibly serious problems. Just the opposite. We must rebuild America's military again, putting national security above all considerations, including trade, which too often, even in my own party and among my GOP rivals, has trumpeted all else."
"I am calling for a moratorium on the closing of American military shipyards and bases. We need a time-out from the foolhardy closings that have become almost a matter-of-fact way of conducting business. It is a time to reexamine and review the decisions that have resulted in the closure of so many bases nationwide," Bauer said.
Bauer's statement is in sharp contrast to this week's base closure statements from Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has called for another round of closing under a congressionally created Base Realignment and Closure Commission. McCain said the local shipyard must be considered in the process, as should the five military bases in his home state of Arizona.
In 1990, a BRAC recommended closing the former Pease Air Force Base, costing this small state nearly 10,000 civilian and military jobs and draining more than one million a day from the state's economy.
Subsequent base-closing panels have seriously considered closing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, each time against the advice of the Navy. In the end, the shipyard, which refuels and repairs fast-attack nuclear submarines, has been spared closure. However, in the last decade, the yard's civilian work force has been cut to about 3,400 from more than 9,000.
Bauer also criticized his rivals for underestimating the threat posed by Mainland China and took on Texas Gov. George W. Bush and McCain for their support of normal trade relations with the communist giant.
Bauer implied his rivals' China policy was the result of large campaign contributors, who would benefit from normal trade relations, including China's admission to the World Trade Organization.
"Sadly, kowtowing to China's repressive government in the name of trade has helped compromise our national security and made a mockery of our most deeply held values. This must change immediately and I intend to make that change early in my new administration," Bauer said.