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Reform Party Out of ControlAired August 9, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: These are not happy days for the Reform Party. With its convention set to begin tomorrow, the party built by Ross Perot is coming apart at the seams. Reform was founded as an alternative to the partisan warfare in Washington.
But, as CNN's Gary Tuchman reports, a war within the Reform Party has gotten out of hand.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The political party founded by Ross Perot may be on the verge of splitting in two.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All in favor, say aye.
TUCHMAN: As the Reform Party gets ready for its national convention this week, party national committee members voted to overturn the disqualification of presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I declare that the motion is passed overwhelmingly.
TUCHMAN: But in another hotel meeting room, a different group of national committee members said the disqualification stands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your hand and say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Aye.
TUCHMAN: The Reform Party is in the midst of a mail-in primary that is suppose to decide the presidential nominee. Buchanan was disqualified last week allegations because of invalid votes, but Buchanan supporters say the decision was illegal.
GERRY MOAN, REFORM PARTY CHAIRMAN: I would absolutely love for the groups to come together, but if they feel that they cannot become part of the new and improved Reform Party, so to speak, that is a decision that they have to make.
RUSS VERNEY, REFORM PARTY CO-FOUNDER: We are essentially on parallel courses. There's the Buchanan campaign over at the other hotel, and the Reform Party members over here, both claiming to be the Reform Party.
TUCHMAN: Commotion broke out earlier in the day when both factions tried to meet together, leading to the anti-Buchanan forces walking out, claiming they weren't being allowed inside by the Buchanan people.
MOAN: There will be no hijacking of the Reform Party in anybody's name.
VERNEY: In our short but turbulent history, this is just one more colorful chapter.
TUCHMAN: Both groups are now planning for the bizarre possibility of parallel national conventions in the same Long Beach, California Civic Center building, meaning they would nominate Pat Buchanan and his opponent, physicist John Hagelin, and fight over the $12.6 million in federal election funds the winner is due to receive.
(on camera): The Reform Party is entitled to the millions of federal dollars because Ross Perot exceeded 5 percent of the popular vote in 1996. But if two different candidates are nominated, control of the money could end up being decided in court.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Long Beach, California.
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