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Salt Lake County Republican delegates had a lively platform debate during Saturday's convention, refusing to oppose the sale of assault rifles, refusing to specifically recognize Vietnam War veterans and refusing to soften their already tough stand on abortion.

In fact, debate on the Salt Lake County GOP platform had to be extended because so many delegates wanted a chance to amend the document.One delegate wanted to insert language that would encourage Congress to ban the sale and possession of automatic assault rifles, like the one used to mow down schoolchildren in California. Many delegates cheered his idea. But a fellow delegate spoke against the measure, saying Americans shouldn't give up one right in the Constitution "just to get prior restraint on criminals." He too was wildly cheered.

Convention rules say a two-thirds vote of the delegates is needed to change the platform, and while 634 voted in favor of banning assault rifles, 508 voted against and the measure failed to get two-thirds majority.

Twice, the convention refused to change the platform to specifically recognize Vietnam War veterans.

Radio host Mills Crenshaw, a longtime Republican and tax protester, tried to amend the platform to ask that the

Legislature pass a law prohibiting any state employee or public institution from using its resources to fight any citizen initiative. In 1988, tax protesters complained loudly that school teachers and other state employees were using tax dollars to lobby against the tax-cutting initiatives.

Again, a majority of the delegates favored the change, but Crenshaw fell just 10 votes short of getting the two-thirds required.

A woman delegate asked that the sentence: "We recognize abortion as the taking of innocent human life," be removed from the Right To Life platform article. The article already opposes abortion except to save the life of the mother or in proven cases of rape or incest. But delegates loudly voted against removing the sentence.

One of the few successful attempts came from Betty Bates, a longtime Republican worker. Bates got the convention to restore language in the platform that instructed GOP legislators to ignore paid lobbyists' "influence and money" in favor of representing their constituents. Not surprisingly, most of the delegate-legislators sitting on the stage voted in favor of that one.