Buchanan Claims Reform Nomination

Sunday, August 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Pat Buchanan claimed the Reform Party nomination Saturday and reached out to founder Ross Perot and his supporters who are trying to prevent Buchanan from receiving $12.5 million in federal campaign funds.

``Ross, let's go out and do battle together,'' Buchanan said in a last-minute revision to his nomination acceptance speech. ``We're giving (the party) the chance to grow and live. We've earned that chance. Ross, come on out and give us a hand.''

There was no immediate indication that Perot or his supporters would accept Buchanan's invitation. They say the nomination is John Hagelin's and the money should be his. In a move that could render the federal subsidy less crucial for him, Hagelin chose as his running mate an Internet multimillionaire.

No one is likely to see the federal cash until the issue is thrashed out by the Federal Election Commission and then, probably, the courts.

The feisty conservative commentator and former Republican acknowledged Saturday that his long-shot presidential bid may have no chance if rivals succeed in keeping him from the party's $12.5 million in federal funding.

``Let me admit it,'' Buchanan said in an interview. ``If the establishment is able to deny us the little amount of money we get, and we get a media blackout so that I'm not covered, and then they keep us out of the debate, yes, they can make it impossible to win.''

Even then, Buchanan and his supporters believe they would have won a key victory in his 40-year political career: Buchanan's own political organization; no party elders to mind; and perhaps a role in the general election representing voters unhappy with both the Republicans and the Democrats.

He recalled opponents in other parties taunting: ``Don't worry about those people; they have nowhere else to go,''' Buchanan told some 600 delegates who voiced loud approval throughout his speech Saturday night. ``Well, guess what? We've got somewhere else to go.

``We've got a home of our own.''

Money or not, Buchanan remains a long shot, drawing 1 to 4 percentage points in recent national polls. But he contends that for him the race is just beginning now that he has won the Reform Party nomination.

The key, he says, is achieving the 15 percent poll support required to gain admittance to the presidential debates with Al Gore and George W. Bush.

But that depends on a plan anchored in part by a modest radio and television campaign to be paid for by the $12.5 million, said the candidate's campaign manager and sister, Bay Buchanan.

Even without that money, she said $1 million to $2 million in donations would keep the campaign running and her brother on the road five days a week.

The separate convention that nominated Hagelin was still going strong on Saturday, too, following the selection of Nat Goldhaber as his running mate.

Hagelin said his campaign would carry on whether or not he received the federal funding.

Goldhaber, who this month sold his Internet marketing company, Cybergold, Inc., said he hadn't decided to spend his own money on the campaign. ``I'll have to look into that,'' he said. He owns two planes that he said he would use for campaign travel. He described himself as worth ``less than hundreds of millions of dollars.''

Unlike the two major party nominees, the Reform candidate can use private funds in addition to the $12.5 million in federal money he can receive. He is still limited to spending no more than $67.6 million — the federal money going to the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

Like Vice President Al Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Goldhaber is Jewish. Buchanan's running mate, Ezola Foster, is a black woman.

Hagelin's supporters have filed a complaint with the FEC charging that Buchanan fraudulently claimed the nomination and asking that the federal funds be awarded to Hagelin instead.

All year, Perot loyalists have expressed strong objections to Buchanan's efforts to take over the party founded by the Texas billionaire. They don't like the way Buchanan has gone about it, replacing longstanding state party officials with his own, and they don't like the way he emphasizes conservative social issues, an approach they say is in direct contradiction to what most party members want.

Buchanan, who left the Republican Party to run for the Reform Party nomination, is not moved.

During this past week, he has still been using the stark language he favors: He will fight the ``rampant homosexuality'' that in part is causing the nation's cultural decline. Eradicating abortion will be his top priority.

``Republicans may be running away from life, but as long as there is life left in me I will never run away from the unborn,'' he said during his speech, to some of the loudest cheers of the address. ``Because their cause is my cause and their cause is Gods cause.''

He laughs off the widely televised image of shoving, shouting members of his adopted party, denying that it will hurt the organization's credibility.

``Look, people forget these things in a week,'' he said. He noted the violence outside the Democrats' 1968 convention in Chicago and said, ``Compared to that, this is high tea at Buckingham Palace.''


EDITOR'S NOTE — AP writer Scott Lindlaw contributed to this report.