Buchanan backers swell Reform ranks
At a party convention, the conservative's aides seek allies for him
By Jeff Zeleny/Des Moines Register
October 19, 1999
Web posted at: 6:08 p.m. EDT (2208 GMT)
AMES, Iowa -- More than 40 of Pat Buchanan's Iowa supporters came to the Reform Party state convention here Saturday, doubling the size of the crowd and creating a curious mix of conservative Republicans and activists who decry the politics of both major parties.
Buchanan, the conservative commentator who is making his third presidential run in the Republican Party, is expected to join the Reform Party next week. Third-party candidates are not included in the Iowa caucuses, but the state Reform Party is planning a straw poll of all Reform candidates one day before the Jan. 24 caucuses.
The Buchanan supporters paid $25 to attend the daylong convention and mixed politely with members of the Reform Party, sharing the same buffet lunch of fried chicken and pork roast. They also shared the same frustration with leading presidential candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties.
"Republicans and Democrats are the same words, and they are taking over our rights," said Joe O'Byrnes of Polk City, whose booming voice brought applause from the 80 people gathered in a hotel conference room. "I'm here because of Pat Buchanan. The reason nobody wants Pat is because he tells the truth."
Buchanan is scheduled to announce his Reform Party intentions Oct. 25 in Virginia. His Iowa campaign organizers said Saturday that they were almost certain Buchanan would leave the Republican Party, so they were working to find support for him in the growing field of Reform Party candidates.
Rep. Michael Cormack, a Fort Dodge Republican and the only state legislator to endorse Buchanan, attended Saturday's convention. Cormack said he planned to support Buchanan's presidential bid, even though the Reform Party takes no stand on key conservative issues such as abortion.
More important than social issues, Cormack said, is Buchanan's staunch opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"That would be my No. 1 reason to support him. I'm tired of seeing big businesses taking jobs overseas," said Cormack, who added that he hadn't decided whether he would join the Reform Party. "I have a loyalty to my country, to my state and my community. That comes before the Republican Party."
Drew Ivers, the Iowa campaign manager for Buchanan, was working Saturday to smooth the way for Buchanan supporters to become active in the Reform Party's presidential race. He said he wanted Buchanan activists to be included among the eight Iowa delegates to the Reform Party's national convention next summer.
Jim Hennager, an Iowa Reform Party activist who ran for governor last year, welcomed the Buchanan supporters but said there was no guarantee Buchanan would get the party's nomination. Hennager predicted the presidential ticket would include Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the party's current patriarch, and Donald Trump - in that order.
"This man will be drafted," Hennager said of Ventura. "Why do you think he's on television every day?"
Ventura declined an invitation to attend the Iowa convention, sending Minnesota Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk instead.
But Ventura wasn't forgotten. Autographed posters of the wrestler-turned-governor were distributed, and after lunch, Ventura action figures were auctioned.
This article provided by Des Moines Register.com