``Pat Robertson is teaching Republicans a lot about politics,'' an admiring volunteer for Jack Kemp remarked the other day. The Robertson campaign, once laughed off by Washington insiders, has proved itself savvy at grass-roots organizing, fund raising, use of high technology, and publicity stunts, like the 70-car caravan that toured New Hampshire just before the primary.
But one of the most effective devices has been what Robertson supporters simply call ``the tape.''
It is a 37-minute audiocassette entitled: ``Pat Robertson: What I Will Do As President.'' The campaign circulated about 60,000 copies of the tape in Iowa, where Robertson finished a surprising second. Another 150,000 went to voters in New Hampshire, and now Robertson is pouring thousands into South Carolina, which votes March 5.
``We just can't get enough of them,'' says a Robertson worker in Columbia, S.C.
Unlike George Bush and Robert Dole, whose campaigns are based on their experience, Robertson runs an issues campaign. He has a highly specific message. When his followers gather at rallies, many say they already know his views on dozens of issues because of the tape.
Robertson's favorite targets on the tape include communists, liberals, bureaucrats, Edward Kennedy (he calls him ``Teddy''), and wasteful defense spending. His message has populist echoes, from William Jennings Bryan to George Wallace.
Robertson rips big banks, Washington elitists, and the ``Eastern liberal establishment,'' including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
He wants the White House staffed exclusively with conservatives. And he promises to fire 100,000 government workers when he arrives in Washington, to weed out profligates and liberals.
``There's incredible waste in Defense Department spending. ... I do think we would start by ... possibly reducing the Pentagon staff by about a third.''
He accuses State Department officials, under the influence of the Council on Foreign Relations, of ``trying to move [the United States] toward a one-world socialist government.''
Robertson charges the liberal elites are using taxpayer money to keep communists in power. ``I would absolutely pledge to ... take immediate steps to prohibit any United States government loans, any loans by United States banks, and where possible loans by the World Bank with United States funds from propping up communist tyranny with low-cost loans and credits.''
He says Eastern liberal thinking has penetrated even the Army War College, where ``we are indoctrinating high-level officers in ... the one-world concept ... and how to accommodate the communists.''
He would set up a ``government of free Nicaragua. ... I would immediately ... withdraw diplomatic recognition from the Sandinista government [and] recognize the free government of Nicaragua.... The Sandinistas are ... nothing but a Soviet puppet.''
Abroad, he says the Soviets have three major goals: dominate Middle East oil, control the mineral riches of southern Africa, and control the choke points of the world, such as the Panama Canal and the Strait of Malacca. Robertson would reenforce US military strength, and prevent, at all costs, a Marxist government takeover in South Africa.
At home, Robertson would order his new director of the budget to slash $100 billion from federal spending in the 1990 fiscal year. The answer to budget deficits, he says, ``is to cut waste and mismanagement in Washington, not to raise taxes.''
He would veto any bill that funded organizations that support abortion.
Comparable worth, Robertson says, ``is the looniest idea since Loony Tunes, and I would not only veto [it], I would have vetoed the spending of any federal money just to study it.'' As for welfare:
``[It] sets up a system of dependency accounting for 30 percent of the divorces in the country.'' The remedy: ``[Hear] the Apostle Paul: `If any man will not work, let him not eat.' That's the start.''