Harsh, Take-No-Prisoner Style Solidifies Conservative Base
PATRICK BUCHANAN'S campaign for the presidency has faltered, but his conservative ideas and sharp attacks have kept the White House political staff scrambling since the beginning of the year.Skip to next paragraph
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Three months ago in New Hampshire, Mr. Buchanan pounded President Bush mercilessly for his 1990 decision to raise taxes. Not long after Buchanan went on the offensive, Mr. Bush apologized.
Two months ago in Georgia, Buchanan blasted federal spending that supports sexually explicit art. Quickly, Bush fired John Frohnmayer, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Throughout the race, Buchanan has harshly criticized foreign aid, making it uncomfortable and politically dangerous for Bush to offer help to the former Soviet Union. Bush found himself in a crossfire, rescued only by the timely arrival of former President Richard Nixon, who demanded that an aid package move ahead.
Bay Buchanan, the former treasurer of the United States and chairman of her brother's campaign, expresses delight with recent events.
"Pat was able to really change policy," Ms. Buchanan says. "Everyone recognizes George Bush is coming back and listening to Pat and is moving back to the right.
"We feel he [Bush] is a stronger candidate when he is more conservative. But more importantly, he'll be a better president of the United States," says Ms. Buchanan, who in 1981 became the youngest person ever to serve as US Treasurer. She is now a guest lecturer at Pepperdine University.
What Ms. Buchanan doesn't say is that her brother is clearly laying the conservative groundwork for a 1996 run for the White House.
Buchanan admits he has no chance for the nomination this year. But by staying in the race, talking about his ideas, and making Bush dance to his tune, Buchanan solidifies his conservative base. If he plays it right, he could preempt some future Republican rivals for the White House, like William Bennett, the former education secretary, and Jack Kemp, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development.
In this year's early primaries, Buchanan proved himself an adept campaigner. Crowds loved him. Reporters enjoyed his colorful language. But it was his policies which set him clearly apart from Bush and made him a powerful protest candidate in the Republican race.
His slogan, "America First," resonates with voters angry about the decline of US industry, the loss of jobs, and falling home prices. It also sums up Buchanan's views on a wide range of issues - foreign, economic, and social.
Ms. Buchanan says at the heart of the campaign's economic message is "smaller government, trimming the size of government dramatically, getting control of spending. He recognizes it can't be done in a year or two."
She says Buchanan would "put a total freeze on spending." Then he would "cut taxes, reduce regulations, give incentives back to people so we can start getting our own economy back on its feet."
Among the highlights of the Buchanan economic plan, as spelled out during the New Hampshire primary, two themes stood out:
* Demand reciprocity from nations that target American industries for destruction, or America First.
* Revise the tax code so investment and saving are never punished, and idleness and indolence never promoted.