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Bono talks to local republicans

April 23, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

U.S. Rep. Mary Bono spoke about voting to impeach President Clinton and the crisis in Kosovo, and shared memories from the time of her husband's death as she addressed local Republicans on Friday night.

The first question many people ask her, Bono said, is "Where did you get the strength to run for office during such a difficult time of your life?"

Then Bono, R-Calif., spoke of waiting on Jan. 5, 1998, for word about her husband, Sonny Bono, while at the bottom of a ski area on the Nevada-California border.

"I held onto every last bit of shred of hope I had," Bono told a large group gathered for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Elks Lodge No. 378 off Robinwood Drive. Sonny Bono was the keynote speaker during the 1997 dinner.

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When she learned her husband had not survived a skiing accident, Bono said she felt peaceful.

"Time just sort of stopped for me," she said.

Her most difficult time was ahead of her, addressing the couple's young children. When she told them their father had gone to God, it became clear what they needed, Bono said.

"They needed to know mom is OK, mom will be strong and mom will go on. It is from my children that I've got the strength to go on," Bono said.

She went on to win her husband's seat in Congress through a special election, despite opposition from her mother-in-law, which she thinks may have swayed voters in her favor.

"It was the anti-mother-in-law vote," she joked.

During her first year in Congress Bono cast four votes to impeach Clinton, something she said she absolutely would do again.

She said she was proud of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, but criticized five Democratic members whom she said never stepped into the evidence room.

Bono, who also sits on the Armed Services Committee, said if American ground troops are sent to Kosovo, overwhelming force should be used.

But Bono said she was nervous about Kosovo, advising caution.

The first-term Republican said Clinton has never been strong on military issues and blamed him for gutting the armed forces and hurting morale.

Kosovo is Clinton's wakeup call, she said.

"He must get serious about foreign policy, get serious about defense," Bono said.

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