LONG BEACH, Calif. - Patrick J. Buchanan, addressing what he called "the last red-meat convention in America," laid claim to the Reform Party presidential nomination yesterday with an acceptance speech heavily focused on social issues formerly subordinated in the party founded by Ross Perot.
Mocking the conflict-free Republican National Convention of his former party this month, Buchanan welcomed "those homeless conservatives who were locked up in the basement at the big Bush family reunion in Philadelphia" to "come on over; there is plenty of room in Reform."
The former Republican White House aide castigated the Republican convention for minimizing discussion of abortion, calling "America's unborn children ... the forgotten Americans of Philadelphia ... another million of whom will die this year without ever seeing the light of day. For these lost innocents, there was barely a word of compassion from the party of compassionate conservatism."
The GOP nominee, Gov. George W. Bush, ordered that the Republican platform remain categorically opposed to abortion but had said he would not make the issue a litmus test in picking his running mate. The man he chose, Dick Cheney, is strongly anti-abortion, however.
Before selecting his vice presidential nominee, Buchanan said he would apply such a test and he did so in selecting Ezola Foster, an anti-abortion black woman, Friday. The choice was accepted by the faction supporting Buchanan, but with grumbling among those whose focus remains on issues of political and economic reform advanced in 1992 and 1996 by Perot.
Though Buchanan proclaimed that the body he was addressing was the only Reform Party convention, the rival group led by old Perot supporters continued to claim that he had been disqualified as a presidential candidate for voter-registration illegalities.
Their nominee at a separate convention nearby, John Hagelin, a physicist, recommended Nat Goldhaber, an Oakland, Calif., venture capitalist, as his running mate. Goldhaber was nominated over Lenora Fulani, a left-wing activist from New York, and two others. Goldhaber, 52, has had a long career in high-tech development and is a vice chairman and director of MyPoints.com.
With Buchanan and Hagelin each claiming to be the duly elected nominee of the Reform Party, the fight will move to the Federal Election Commission, which will consider which of them, if either, is entitled to the $12.6 million in federal money set aside for the party's candidate.
Buchanan, who was announced Friday as the winner of an unusual e-mail and mail-in "primary," with 63 percent of the vote, to 37 percent for Hagelin, proceeded yesterday on the assumption that he will lead the party he joined this spring into the November election.
Buchanan laced his speech with populist, protectionist, noninterventionist and social conservative themes. He charged that American steel workers were "betrayed by President Clinton and sacrificed to the gods of the global economy."
He accused the president of "the arrogance of power" in foreign interventions in Kosovo and elsewhere and added, "We are Americans who say with our fathers: To hell with empire; we want our country back."
If he is elected, he said, "All U.S. troops will come home from Kosovo, Kuwait and Korea, and I will put them on the borders of Arizona, Texas and California" to protect against illegal immigration.
Denying that he is an isolationist, Buchanan said Americans want to have commercial, cultural and diplomatic contact with all countries, "but we will no longer squander the blood of our soldiers fighting other countries' wars, or the wealth of our people paying other countries' bills. The Cold War is over. It is time to bring America's troops home to the United States, where they belong, and end foreign aid."
He vowed to fight "world government abroad and big government at home."
Buchanan pledged that he would "lead this country out of the WTO, out of the IMF, and I will personally tell [United Nations Secretary General] Kofi Annan: 'Your lease has run out. You will be moving out of the United States, and if you are not gone by year's end, I will send you 10,000 Marines to help you pack your bags.' "
He warned China against further "one-sided trade deals" and pledged to tell the Chinese: "Fellows, either you stop this persecution of Christians, and these threats to our friends on Taiwan, and rattling missiles at the United States, or you fellows have sold your last pair of chopsticks in any mall in the United States of America."
Buchanan said his Reform Party would "eliminate all death taxes and end the government's role as federal grave robber of the American family."
He vowed to "end the marriage penalty and cut income taxes for all Americans," and to "impose 10 percent tariff on imports and use the money to end all taxes on small businesses. And we will chop down the IRS until it is so small all the IRS agents will fit into the building that is being vacated by the National Endowment of the Arts," another favorite conservative target.
Buchanan also committed himself to "no more racial profiling and no more racial preferences," to eliminating the Education Department and, in a nod to original reformist goals of the party, said, "We will outlaw the glorified bribery they call soft money and put term limits on every member of Congress and federal judge. If eight years was enough for George Washington and Ronald Reagan, it is long enough for Teddy Kennedy and Barney Frank."