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 TIME on politics TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and TIME

Buchanan, Trump could battle for Reform nomination

October 25, 1999
Web posted at: 6:04 a.m. EDT (1004 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pat Buchanan prepared to bolt the Republican Party on Monday for the Reform Party, where a possible challenge for that party's presidential nomination awaited him from New York real estate mogul Donald Trump.

In this story:

Reform split looms behind candidates
GOP reaction to Buchanan's exit mixed

Buchanan, a conservative pundit and sometime CNN host,is scheduled to announce his intentions in a speech in a Washington suburb at 10 a.m. Trump upstaged him Sunday by renouncing his Republican Party membership to join the Independence Party, the New York state chapter of the Reform Party.

Buchanan did not comment on Trump's move as he met with Reform Party officials in Washington. He said a Reform bid would be a way of representing Americans whose opinions aren't shared by either major party.


"If I do decide to run, my message will be that the two national parties are failing America -- that they've really become two wings of the same bird of prey," he said.

Buchanan's previous campaigns against former President George Bush and Sen. Bob Dole are thought to have hurt the Republican front-runners in 1992 and 1996. He has lagged well behind Texas Gov. George W. Bush in surveys of likely GOP voters in 2000, and he has complained as well that the party's nominating process is slanted toward the current front-runner.

His social conservatism and controversial opinions make a Reform Party fit look uncomfortable. But should Buchanan get the nomination, he might drain not only conservatives from the GOP, but blue-collar, unionized workers from the Democrats.

Trump, meanwhile, told CNN he will decide whether to seek the Reform nomination early in 2000. A longtime registered Republican, he said Sunday the party was now "just too crazy right" and the Democrats "too liberal."

As an experienced businessman, "I'd make the greatest treaties this country has seen in a long time," Trump told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Reform split looms behind candidates

At stake in the Reform debate is a war chest of several million dollars and a simmering dispute between two wings of the Reform Party.

Party founder Ross Perot's presidential showings in 1992 and 1996 qualify the party's nominee for $12.6 million in federal matching funds. Some of Perot's backers within the party -- 1996 running mate Pat Choate -- have encouraged Buchanan to bolt the GOP, while Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the party's top elected official, has met with Trump.

Choate said Buchanan's support of tighter immigration policy and opposition to free trade make him attractive to many Reform voters, while his conservative views on social issues such as abortion would neither aid nor disqualify him.

"On the social issues, the Reform Party has a very libertarian view," Choate said. "Its members are split roughly 50-50, so the party takes no position."

Trump and girlfriend
Trump with his current girlfriend, model Melania Knauss  

Outgoing Reform Chairman Russ Verney said Perot himself has taken no stand in a possible Trump-Buchanan race.

"He wants the Reform Party members to be able to make up their minds through a fair, open-minded democratic process free of any influence from him," Verney said.

Verney said he would expect Trump to endorse the Reform Party's platform and principles in any presidential bid.

"If he wants the nomination, he'll do that. The nomination is not just showing up and saying, `Pick me, Coach.' It's a lot of hard work ... It's not for the faint of heart."

Verney said he had not spoken with Trump.

"I placed a call to him several weeks ago, but he hasn't called back," he said.

GOP reaction to Buchanan's exit mixed

Buchanan served as a speechwriter in Richard Nixon's administration and as a spokesman for Ronald Reagan's. But a recent book on international policy, in which he wrote that Nazi Germany posed no military threat to the United States the early days of World War II, has raised hackles among many GOP leaders.

Reaction among Buchanan's fellow Republicans was mixed Sunday. Some conservative Republicans, like fellow presidential hopeful Gary Bauer, expressed hope Buchanan may stay with the party yet.

"I hate to see Pat leave," Bauer said. I think it is better for conservatives to stay in the Republican party."

But others, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, say Buchanan's writings show he has no place in the party. Trump derided him as a "Hitler lover" Sunday.

Former New Hampshire senator and McCain co-chair Warren Rudman was more cynical in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"It's my view that he is running for the reform party nomination for one reason and one reason alone: money -- a great deal of federal matching money which he would get," Rudman said.

Former President Bush, interviewed on "Fox News Sunday," said that he holds no animosity toward Buchanan -- even though many people believe Buchanan's 1992 challenge to Bush helped elect Bill Clinton.

"You can't help but like the guy," Bush said. "I just hope that he doesn't get all over my boys."

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley contributed to this report.


Buchanan, Trump could battle for Reform nomination (10-25-99)

Buchanan announces switch to Reform Party (10-25-99)

Study: Reporting on female candidates more personality-driven (10-25-99)

Mayor warming up to minimum-wage increase (10-25-99)

Buchanan cites reasons for seeking Reform Party nomination (10-25-99)



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Monday, October 25, 1999

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