Bob Smith has found a home.

The New Hampshire senator, who resigned from the Republican party in July, announced yesterday that he would seek the presidential nomination of the U.S. Taxpayers Party at its convention in St. Louis next month. Smith accused the GOP of abandoning its conservative constituency on issues such as taxes, abortion and gun control.

In a statement, Smith said that he had received thousands of supportive letters and phone calls from conservatives "who have had no home since the days of Ronald Reagan." He ended the statement exhorting conservatives to "come home. Together we will chart the right course for America."

Howard Phillips, founder of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, said: "There's no question that he has the overwhelming support of the delegates. Basically his record of leadership in the Senate corresponds very well with the policy agenda of our party." Phillips was the party's candidate in 1996 and appeared on the ballot in 39 states. This time, he predicted the party would be on the ballots of all 50 states and perhaps the District.

The party opposes abortion rights, and supports the elimination of the national debt, abolition of the Internal Revenue Service and elimination of federal income taxes. According to the organization's Web site, it also advocates withdrawal of "all New World Order treaties and organizations" and restoring "American jurisprudence to its Biblical premises."

Though a few percentage points -- or less -- could be the difference between winning and losing in November 2000, Republicans point to polls showing Smith in the low single digits even in his own state. "We do not expect the U.S. Taxpayers Party to be a significant factor in the 2000 elections," said a Republican National Committee official yesterday.

Three Presidential Contenders Attend Urban League Conference

The National Urban League attracted some top presidential contenders to its annual conference this week, including Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R), who has caught some flak for recently ducking events sponsored by minority groups.

On Sunday, Bush appeared before some 4,000 business and civic leaders, most of them black, at the conference in Houston to tout his efforts to end social promotion in Texas public schools and his call for government support of faith-based institutions that work to solve social problems.

He was received politely, although National Urban League President Hugh Price, who followed Bush at the lectern, criticized his position on social promotion. Price said Bush was "a day late and a dollar short," noting that students who are held back often end up dropping out of school completely.

On the Democratic side, Vice President Gore and former senator Bill Bradley also showed up, continuing their efforts to court traditional Democratic constituencies -- both addressed the PUSH/Rainbow Coalition convention in Chicago last week. Gore repeated his call for passage of a tough federal hate crimes law, drawing attention to Bush -- who did not support a hate crimes bill that failed in the Texas legislature -- without using his name. Bradley reiterated his support for affirmative action and enterprise zones, and called for extending health care coverage for children living in poverty.