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Buchanan Preventing Party Suicide Mission

  • Followers of Ross Perot at the National Con vention on Aug. 10 preferred political suicide over nominating Pat Buchanan.
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By Clayton Potts

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Pat Buchanan has claimed the Reform Party's presidential nomination -- with 410 of the total 595 delegates -- despite a rowdy derailing attempt by Ross Perot followers who, rather than accept defeat graciously, are still trying to destroy the movement.

They are causing, at most, a minor inconvenience. Court challenges threaten to delay disbursement of $12.6 million in Federal Elections Commission funds due the Buchanan campaign. However, a quick decision for Buchanan is likely because courts normally expedite these proceedings.

Another inconvenience is John Ha gelin, nominee of the little-known Na tural Law Party who also sought the Reform Party nomination, supported by the Buchanan bashers. Hagelin will run as the Natural Law candidate and likely claim that he's the Reform "nominee" based on actions by dissidents who walked out of the proceedings.

But Hagelin and his Reform rump bunch amount to no more than a gnat bite on the body politic. Hagelin and his Natural Law Party will be on the ballot in few, if any, states. The Reform rump will be on the ballot in no state.

It's hard for voters to take Hagelin ser iously; he advocates transcendental meditation as the cure for mankind's ills.

The "anybody-but-Buchanan" forces collapsed during a meeting of the Reform Party's National Committee on the eve of the convention.

The National Committee nullified an action by Buchanan bashers on the Executive Committee to knock him off the ballot and assure Hagelin's nomination. Two members who voted for Bu chanan's ouster had been recalled and were disqualified.

"It's over now," said Angela "Bay" Buchanan, the candidate's sister and cam paign manager, after the executive committee's overwhelming vote and walk out by rump members.

"It is Pat Buchanan's nomination," she said. "They needed to win in there and they did not have the numbers. We've won fair and square."

Buchanan bashers, led by Reform Se cretary Jim Mangia, are "a handful of dissidents who refused to accept the fact that Pat Buchanan beat them fair and square in state convention after state convention across the country," she said.

Mangia led the walkout of about 30 people and called a separate, rump "na tional committee" meeting at a hotel two blocks away where, anticipating defeat, facilities had been reserved in advance.

Mangia talked of a "counter-convention" and suing Buchanan and his campaign for "fraud" without specifying any improprieties.

"I think what you are seeing is two separate tracks and two separate conventions," Mangia said.

Gerald Moan, Reform Party chairman, remained neutral in the nominating contest but upheld Buchanan on procedural issues. He said "there will be no hijacking of the Reform Party" and Mangia and his backers will fail.

"I'm the convention chairman recognized by the Federal Election Commission," Moan said. "I'm the chairman recognized by the FEC. And I will certify who the candidate is from this party."

The convention officially opened Aug. 10 with Buchanan holding more than the two-thirds majority required to nail down the nomination. That majority is enough to override a national email poll, although Buchanan was expected to win the "beauty contest," too.

"These little tiffs and disputes will be behind us by Sunday," Buchanan told cheering supporters. "We're going to get into the debate and give Albert and W. the fight of their lives."