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Pat Buchanan Analyzes Super Tuesday

March 13, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


MARGARET WARNER: It was Bob Dole who was the big winner on Super Tuesday, winning handily in all seven states. After four weeks of primaries and caucuses, the Senate Majority Leader has won 737 delegates of the 996 needed for nomination. Publisher Steve Forbes has 76 and reportedly plans to drop out of the race tomorrow. Commentator Pat Buchanan has 72, but he has vowed to stay in the race. He joins us now from Toledo, Ohio. Welcome, Mr. Buchanan.

PATRICK BUCHANAN, Republican Presidential Candidate: Hi, Margaret.

MARGARET WARNER: Thanks for being with us. Steve Forbes is said to be dropping out of this contest tomorrow. What effect do you think it will have on the race?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: I think it will turn it into–incidentally, we’re getting some feedback in that earpiece–I think it will turn it into a Pat Buchanan-Bob Dole race, which I felt it was from the beginning, a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and what kind of party we would become. There’s no doubt Bob Dole leads in the delegate count, but we believe we’re winning the battle for the heart and soul and the future of the Republican Party. We’re going to stay in right to the convention.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, you are losing 75 to 80 percent of the Republican vote in all of these primaries.


MARGARET WARNER: I mean, how is this battle for the heart and soul of the party going?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, you, if you hear, look at the polls, I think something like 55 percent of the Republicans say they do not believe Bob Dole has ideas, and an equal number do not know where he’s going to take the party. There’s no doubt that Bob Dole’s got establishment support. He’s got endorsements. He’s got momentum. He’s got delegates. He represents the heart of the Washington establishment and the national establishment of the Republican Party, but I think on issues like these unfair trade deals that have sent American jobs abroad and are responsible for the decline in the standard of living of American workers and the hollowing out of our manufacturing base. There’s no doubt, Margaret, that our ideas have resonated, have taken hold, and are being reflected in all campaigns and in news stories, so I think that our agenda is the agenda driving the nation and driving the party right now, even though Bob Dole continues to win delegates.

MARGARET WARNER: Yet, you do see that even people who believe, as you do, say that too many jobs are being lost to international trade, they’re still going for Bob Dole almost to two one over you.

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, that’s–there’s no doubt about that, that many people who agree with me and do not agree with Bob Dole have assumed Bob is the nominee. And so they’re now voting for him I think with a sense of resignation that this is the inevitable nominee, and we might as well vote for him. But the question is: Where does the Republican Party go in its convention in August? Is it going to go with the old Bob Dole, who went along with NAFTA and GATT, who went along with Bill Clinton on the Supreme Court judges, who went along with 16 tax increases, who went along with the $50 billion bailout of Mexico? If that’s the direction the Republican Party is going, I think Sen. Dole and, and the folks who are with him, I think are leading us into a very bad situation. And we’re going to fight to change the direction of the party and to bring into it the hundreds of thousands of people who have come out and voted for me, worked for me, and supported me. Margaret, we ran–I ran second in the New Hampshire primary among Democrats, second to Bill Clinton, as well as first among Republicans. And we’re going to San Diego to represent all those folks, Democrats, independents, Republicans, and try to bring ’em into the Republican Party, and change its direction.

MARGARET WARNER: So you’re saying that essentially you see your candidacy now about trying to affect Bob Dole and what kind of a campaign he runs against the President in the Fall?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: No. I see it as much more than that. I see it as a battle for the heart and soul and future of the Republican Party after 1996, as well as influencing the party in 1996, as well as helping write the platform of the Republican Party this year, and influencing Sen. Dole, quite frankly, if he is the nominee, in what kind of ticket he selects, and which direction he goes. I don’t know–and I think the vast majority of Americans don’t know exactly what Bob Dole would do as President and quite frankly, I don’t know exactly where he stands on countless issues, or what he would do, even though I’ve been in a couple of debates with him.

MARGARET WARNER: What would be your conditions for supporting, for actively supporting him if he is the nominee?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, we’re not setting conditions right now, Margaret. What we’re doing is right now we are moving toward a situation where I will have far more votes going into San Diego than I had going into Houston, and that was 3 million votes. We may not have the delegate count that Sen. Dole does, but we’re not setting down conditions. We are trying–we’re doing what we said we would do for our people that supported me. I said I will go all the way to San Diego, I will stand up there for life, I will stand up for the working men and women who are losing their jobs, I will fight these unfair trade deals that are sending your jobs overseas, I will try to make this party more responsive to the people who walked out in 1992 and went for Ross Perot. I’ll try to make this the kind of party you’d be welcome in so that we can build a 60 percent majority as I helped build for Richard Nixon and as I helped build for Ronald Reagan. That’s what we want, and in addition to that, we’d like the nomination of the Presidency of the United States, no doubt about it.

MARGARET WARNER: You keep bringing–

PATRICK BUCHANAN: But we have other goals as well as those.

MARGARET WARNER: You keep bringing up Houston in 1992. There was a story recently by David Broder of the “Washington Post” in which he quoted several former Bush veterans who said they believe that then Vice President Bush made a big mistake in essentially negotiating with you too much and giving you too much at the ’92 Convention, and they were advising the Dole people not to, as one put it, not to kowtow to Buchanan. How did you react to that story?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: I’m not going to–I don’t want anybody to kowtow to Pat Buchanan. And, look, many of the Dole folks or several of them have said, look, why don’t we just lock him out of the convention, why don’t we just deny him a speech, they’ve put out the names of Vice-Presidential candidates, two of whom have said they would never support us. They’ve said we don’t care about our issues. Look, they can do what they want. I mean, that is their call. And there’s nothing we can do about it, quite frankly, although I cannot believe that they can tell the nation why they denied a prime time speaking place to a candidate who ran a fair campaign on issues and ran second and collected millions of votes and defeated individuals like Sen. Gramm with more money and Mr. Alexander and Mr. Forbes. I don’t know how they’re going to make that case, but, look, if that’s what they want to do, I don’t know how they call themselves the party of ideas.

MARGARET WARNER: So you’re saying you feel you’re entitled to a speaking slot at prime time?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, I–look, I believe that I am–if Mr. Forbes is going out tomorrow, there’s no question about it–I have run second for the Republican nomination, if Bob Dole wins it. I will have more votes than anyone else. I will have more delegates than anyone else. I will have more support outside the party among Democrats and independents than anyone. I bring more to the table than anyone else. Now, if they’re going to say, well, you know, because it’s Pat Buchanan, we’re just not going to treat him equally, we’re not going to treat him fairly, there’s nothing I can do about that. And they can do that if they wish, but I don’t know why they would do that, but if they do do it, it’s going to send a clear message to our folks about what we ought to do as well.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, I want to get to your folks, but let me first ask, even though you’re saying there are no conditions, could you support Bob Dole if he chose as his Vice-Presidential nominee someone who was not pro-life?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, look, the name that is brought out all the time is Senator [General] Colin Powell, who I worked with and I thought he was a fine military officer when he was in the White House, but Colin Powell has been a Republican for what, three or six months? The first thing he did on joining our party is announce he could not support me. He’s declared himself a Rockefeller Republican. He says he’s pro-choice on abortion. He’s skeptical about the Contract with America. He’s in favor of affirmative action and federal gun control. Now, what is the sense–I mean, if Bob Dole wants to move the party and make the heir apparent to his Presidency or his nomination a Rockefeller Republican, those of us who believe we are Reagan Republicans and who won the battle for the heart and soul of the party in 1964 and thereafter, we’re going to resist, and we’re going to fight, and that’s all there is to it.

MARGARET WARNER: Are you going to go elsewhere?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: I beg your pardon.

MARGARET WARNER: Would you go elsewhere?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I don’t–again, why don’t we take this one primary at a time. We got a real battle coming up in the industrial Middle West, especially we believe in Michigan. We got a fight in California, where the strong stand I’ve taken about halting illegal immigration cold using a security fence is a strong issue. We’re going to go through all those primaries, and we’re going to that convention and fight for what we believe in.

MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let me ask you–

PATRICK BUCHANAN: I promised my folks we would do that, and we’re going to do it, Margaret.

MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you this. Are you interested in being the Vice-Presidential nominee?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: (laughing) Umm, we’re going to the convention, and we’re going to fight for what we believe in. I do not think that Sen. Dole, given the kind of campaign his people conducted against me, have me in mind for their Vice-Presidential nominee, and we still think there’s a chance I’ll be picking the Vice-Presidential nominee.

MARGARET WARNER: But are you saying you would be uninterested, or you’d be interested?

PATRICK BUCHANAN: Uh, Margaret, I think the question is, is extraordinarily hypothetical, and we’re not going to respond to that.

MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you, Mr. Buchanan. Thanks very much.