"Questions, let's see, up first is up front." Alan L. Keyes '72--the arch-conservative Republican presidential candidate--is taking questions after a fiery stump speech. He's spent the past half hour attacking "the radical homosexual agenda" and condemning abortion as murder.
Starting his Q&A;, Keyes can't resist the determined-looking young woman with a huge yellow 'Choice' button pinned to her chest. He knows what's coming and he doesn't think twice. Ten minutes later, he chastises the moderator of the event, who is trying to steer the microphone away from another would-be critic, a University of Wisconsin student. "Let me direct the microphone, if you don't mind," shouts Keyes, his voice a mixture of fearsome preacher and irritated muppet.
Throughout the question and answer period, the raised hands of the gray-shirted Keyes youth minions go unnoticed as the candidate takes on all challengers. After the speech, the University of Wisconsin student approaches the candidate and tells him that the microphone-handler was deliberately trying to avoid him.
"I know," Keyes says. But that's not his approach. "I look around to see who looks like they're intent on challenging me."
Alan Lee Keyes is an evangelical conservative. He wants your vote, but he cares more about converting you to the cause. If you waver, even slightly, he'll pounce. Leading Republican number two, Senator John McCain, recently faced Keyes' fury for daring to suggest that he enjoyed Nine Inch Nails.
"Don't you think that as leaders we ought to be a little bit more serious about the kind of influences that are now destroying the lives of our children, and before we open our mouths, we ought to know what we're talking about?" he asked a stupefied McCain. The Senator stammered, telling Keyes he was only trying to be amusing. Keyes shot back, "I'm a father and I'm not laughing, I'm really not."
Many who witness his wild pronouncements from the stump are left to wonder at his, to put it delicately, sense of balance.