BUCHANAN'S GRAND OLD PARTY
AUGUST 14, 1996
How does Pat Buchanan feel about the moderate face the GOP has put on, and his own marginal presence at the San Diego convention? Margaret Warner gets answers on this, and other contentious issues from this frequently contentious Republican.
A RealAudio version of this Newsmaker interview with Pat Buchanan is available here.
Aug. 14:Republican delegates discuss the apparent split personality of the GOP.
Mar. 13:Pat Buchanan discusses his Primary campaign performance following his poor showing on "Super Tuesday."
Complete NewsHour coverage of the Republican primary campaign and Election '96 is available here.
MARGARET WARNER: Who or what is the real Republican Party? We explore that now with the man who ran hard for the nomination with a very different message from that being projected from the podium of this convention, Patrick Buchanan. Welcome.
PATRICK BUCHANAN, Former Presidential Candidate: Welcome.
MARGARET WARNER: Is the party we're seeing from this podium, is that the real Republican Party?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: I think there's no doubt the party from the podium is a much more moderate party than it was in the primaries, and the delegates on the floor and the platform, but those are good Republicans up on that podium, and I think Sen. Dole and the ones who run the convention have wanted to showcase those Republicans, and they've got every right to do so.
MARGARET WARNER: But has that been a phony picture that viewers at home are getting?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: No. I think those are Republicans up there, and you've got Republican governors, and you've got Colin Powell, who's joined the Republican Party. J.C. Watt is a terrific conservative, and I understand he gave a magnificent speech last night, and I think it was not covered by some networks, which I regret. But there's no doubt the podium is more moderate than the convention floor and the platform and quite frankly than the Congress of the United States, or the House of Representatives, at least. But, look, Margaret, we have a very powerful conservative wing. We're a conservative party which has many moderates in it.
MARGARET WARNER: But if you're trying to present the party in its fullness, in its big tent to viewers at home, they are seeing only one part of the tent for the most part. You were not allowed to speak. We have not heard a major speech in prime time that is either anti-abortion or adopts your views on trade or anti-immigration. So--
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Let me hold you right there, Margaret. I noticed this morning Jack Kemp basically adopted the Pat Buchanan view on illegal immigration, that it ought to be halted at our border. I believe he adopted the view that there ought not to be welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. He also adopted the view I have held on affirmative action. Our party has endorsed the California civil rights initiative. Sen. Dole is speaking to these issues on issue after issue after issue, if you look where Sen. Dole's rhetoric is, where his commitment is, it is very much consistent with, maybe it's not identical with, Pat Buchanan. And the Senator said he hadn't read the platform. I understand that. It's about 70 pages long. But the question is how do we run and how do we win, and I think what Jack Kemp did today is going to help the party very much.
MARGARET WARNER: So it sounds as if you still believe what you said a few days ago, which is that every day that goes by the Republican Party is becoming more the Buchanan Party?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: There's no doubt, Margaret, the center of gravity of this party is moving toward the Buchanan view. It's not there entirely on foreign policy. Mr. Baker gave a fine interview. Let me give you an example.
MARGARET WARNER: He did say that was sort of a stretch.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: But let me say this. Does anybody think NAFTA or GATT would pass this Congress of the United States if it were put up now? It would not. Clearly our party is moving much more closer to a Buchanan position on trade. Listen to Sen. Dole. He is speaking up about he's concerned--he's saying, let's take a hard look at what these trade deals have done to working people. Real wages are down. Maybe Buchanan has a point. And so I think in that sense, the party is moving toward our position. I think it's there on--almost there on trade--it is there on affirmative action. We are still right to life. And I don't think there's any dissent from that view.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. But then what does it say--and I don't want to beat a dead horse here--but what does it say that the convention managers do not want to show that part, what you've just described, to the country as a whole?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, I think the convention managers, maybe they think they want to present Sen. Dole as those folks as more representative of his campaign and him than the conservatives on the whole. That's their decision, Margaret. But I think there's no one who denies that's the truth.
MARGARET WARNER: John Buckley, who's the communications director of the Dole-Kemp campaign, said of you that you had worked very, very hard for a certain agenda, you were a passionate advocate, but that was not the agenda that was driving the agenda of the Dole-Kemp campaign.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: But Jack Kemp this morning came out and adopted basically the Buchanan position on affirmative action, the Buchanan position on illegal immigration. I don't know if he went all the way to embrace 187, which he had rejected before, but clearly Sen. Dole made--I've been listening to Sen. Dole--you've been listening to him. I find his views perfectly consistent with mine. I'm delighted to see him stating them. I think it can help him win California, and his campaign in recent weeks, I think, I mean, you hear him, no more American troops under UN command. That's right out of our campaign. The sovereignty plank in there is right out of the Buchanan campaign. You know what it was titled before they got to the final draft, Putting America First. So we're elated with that platform. Some of the issues Sen. Dole adopted, we have been heard, we have been respected. And no, not all of them. I disagree on some of the major foreign policy issues, but, look, as Senator--Mr. Baker said, we are the party of the open door. When I worked for Richard Nixon and for Ronald Reagan, we got 60 percent of the vote in 49 states. That means you got people voting for you who disagree with you and may not even like you. And that's the way you build it, though. You give yourself a clear, compelling platform of conviction, of principles, of ideas. You say this is where we stand and where we're going. But if you don't agree with all of them, come on anyhow. Join us, because we're going to beat Bill Clinton, and we're going to send him back to Arkansas. That's what we're united on.
MARGARET WARNER: As Jim Baker said also.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, that's very true. And we're united also--let me mention one thing--I know it's not foreign policy--this idea of tax cuts, that forces reduction in government. We are a small government again. We are now a tax cut party again, instead of the tax increase of 1990. That's a victory for our cause, and it's going to unite this party, and I think it's going to help us.
MARGARET WARNER: So what should voters conclude? Let's say Dole and Kemp were elected and it were a Republican Congress. What should they conclude about what the No. 1 priorities--I mean, would it be the social agenda that is contained in the platform and very much your agenda, or would it be the face that's being presented here?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, let me say this. With regard to--well, let's take right to life, I believe de-funding any abortion clinic and de-funding the UNFDA and Planned Parenthood, Congress would vote for those. I think, let me just say generally the Buchanan views would be heard and respected and many of my ideas would be implemented, some of them partially and some of the not so, but it is far better for America, if we can get our cause and our folks, if I can--we can get 50 or 60 percent of what we want, maybe more, than if we get nothing with Bill and Hillary Clinton. That's why the Republicans, our arguments, our quarrels, our debates really should end here. And we've got a 10-weeks battle, and the battle is not between Pat Buchanan and someone on that podium. The battle is between Buchanan and all the Republicans, Dole and Kemp and Baker and the folks that currently occupy a residence we want back.
MARGARET WARNER: It sounds like a very new pragmatic Pat Buchanan.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: It is not pragmatic. Pat Buchanan is as conservative, as pro-life, as America first, as fair trade as he's ever been. But we get nothing if we don't support this ticket and we don't win. If we do, we're going to get something.
MARGARET WARNER: All right.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: And we may get much.
MARGARET WARNER: How are your supporters feeling? You once warned that if you weren't treated with respect, that they would have a hard time enthusiastically supporting the ticket.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: I do believe it was a mistake not to allow us to speak, and there's no doubt the Republican contingent of the Buchanan--and the folks in the convention in the hall are related we endorsed, and elated we're home.
MARGARET WARNER: They're behind you on that.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: They're behind us 100 percent, and they want us to go with Dole-Kemp to win, but no doubt, some of the folks up in Escondido--
MARGARET WARNER: Which is where you gave your speech last Sunday.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: That wonderful rally. Some of them are Reform Party folks, Taxpayer Party folks, some of them are Democrats. Frankly, some of them don't like the Republican Party. They love me, and because of some of the decisions I think which were mistaken, some of ‘em aren't coming home. I'm sure my fax at home is filled up with letters and memos of people in tears saying, you've let us down and we don't have anyone to vote for. And I'm going to send ‘em all a long letter and tell ‘em, look, what I did I did as I said I would for what I think is best for our cause and our country, and that's what puts me behind this ticket. Now you can examine your own conscience and you got to decide what's best for you, but I think the defeat of Bill and Hillary Clinton has really got to be the major objective in the next 10 weeks. After that, we can reopen all the old arguments.
MARGARET WARNER: It sounds like you're promising to do so.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: No, but you know we will because frankly if we become a party of 60 percent of the country, we're going to have arguments. As a matter of fact, that's the kind of convention I would have loved. I would have put Wilson and Weld up there and then I'd come right after ‘em. And we'd have had a wonderful, rambunctious convention where people argued from their heart and you had the delegates cheering and booing, and we'd end up united and moving forward. It's much more old time. It's old fashioned, it's back to the 50's. (laughing)
MARGARET WARNER: And the press would have loved it.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: As they accuse me of being, huh? The press would have loved it, and of course, here comes the evil ones and these are the good guys and all that, you know.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you to comment on something Jim Baker said.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Sure.
MARGARET WARNER: He's run a lot of campaigns, you've both observed and covered a lot. He was comparing his to ‘88 when George Bush was down--I don't know if it was 17 or 18 points--
PATRICK BUCHANAN: He was.
MARGARET WARNER: And after the conventions he came back. Do you think that analogy is apt?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, yeah, Bush was down 18 by August 1st and by Labor Day he was up 7, a 25 point turnaround. It was beautifully managed not only at the convention but the strategy and tactics. One of the problems I had is getting through to my folks and friends all through this party. We got a road block, a boulder, sitting in the middle of the road, called Ross Perot. Now Ross, he's at 10 percent. That is 10 million votes right out of the Reagan coalition, right out of the Bush coalition of 1988. I mean, we've got to get those folks back, and that's why I wish I could have seen at the convention talking about the issue of national sovereignty more, about the lost jobs of working men and women, those folks came out to me. We got those folks in Michigan and Wisconsin, and I genuinely think we could have brought ‘em home, and I wish we'd seen more of their concerns addressed.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thanks very much.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Always good to be here, Margaret.