GREENBELT -- Patrick J. Buchanan brought his fiery rhetoric to the new incarnation of the Reform Party yesterday, telling a crowd of about 125 at the party's state convention that he's got a plan for getting his message on the main stage of the media before November's election.
"The press liked Bill Bradley, but he's toast," Buchanan said of the candidate for the Democratic nomination. "They love [Republican] John McCain, but he'll be gone in a week or two.
"The press will look up and see they have a race between [George W.] Bush and [Al] Gore and realize that's going to be boring," he said. "Then they will say [of me], 'Hey, isn't that troll still out there under the bridge?'
"And if you think they've been shedding a lot of blood in the Republican Party lately, wait until we get ahold of ol' 'W,' " he said.
Buchanan said that he has been to Reform Party conventions in 14 states and that all, as Maryland did yesterday, are giving him their delegates. The party's top office-holder, Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, has walked out of the party rather than support a Buchanan presidential bid.
"I'm sorry he walked out, but what that did was remove a major competitor for the nomination," Buchanan said.
Buchanan's populist message emphasizes his opposition to free trade, denouncing the World Trade Organization as the first step toward a world government and opposing permanent favored nation trading status for China.
He said that, if he is president, if China threatens Taiwan or targets the United States with missiles, "I would call them into my office and tell them if they don't shape up, they've sold their last pair of chopsticks in any mall in the United States."
Buchanan took a similar stance when asked about rising gasoline prices, noting that many of the countries controlling the oil supply, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are home to U.S. armed forces bases.
"They are raising the price of gasoline for the parents of the boys who are over there protecting them," he said. "I'd call all those guys in robes in and tell them to start pumping oil or start buying guns, because you're defending yourselves after this."
Buchanan also opposed increasing the number of visas for high-tech workers, mostly Asians who are often employed in Silicon Valley firms.
"It's bad enough that they take their factories and put them overseas, now they are bringing workers here and treating them like indentured servants," he said. "I would tell Silicon Valley to hire Americans first."