Buchanan camp, boosted by votes, ready to target next state primaries

February 19, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Staff Writer

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The impossible dream of Patrick J. Buchanan came true last night amid the roar of hundreds of supporters eagerly celebrating President George Bush's nightmare.

Mr. Buchanan's enthusiasts packed the Courtyard Inn beyond capacity and forced the fire marshal to close the door to scores of others.

"Tonight a campaign that was just a dream 10 weeks ago has taken the full measure of the Republican establishment in Washington," a jubilant Mr. Buchanan declared.

With network crews filming him, he appealed nationwide for "recruits" to go into "states like Maryland and Florida and Georgia and Texas so we can take this battle to the entire country."

Mr. Buchanan's aides said the campaign had received $125,000 in the mail yesterday. They predicted the New Hampshire results would generate the money and support needed to campaign in the 46 or 47 states where they say he is on the ballot.

Although Maryland was not to be a priority like Georgia, which also holds a primary March 3, his aides said he would make appearances in Maryland.

Mr. Buchanan added his success here would "provide the resources to target more and more states."

In his speech, Mr. Buchanan gave credit to the "fighting Union Leader," New Hampshire's largest newspaper and Mr. Buchanan's champion, and to New Hampshire citizens "hungry for a new vision rooted in the grand and good old principles of our party."

Proclaiming the revolutionary theme of his campaign, Mr. Buchanan declared that his "brigades met King George's army . . . and I'm here to report they are retreating back in to Massachusetts."

"And we have Governor Gregg and Lord Sununu in custody," he jested, referring to New Hampshire Gov. Judd Gregg and John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and former chief of Mr. Bush's staff. Mr. Gregg chaired Mr. Bush's campaign here, and Mr. Sununu campaigned in his behalf.

Even Mr. Buchanan's sister had difficulty absorbing the impact of Mr. Buchanan's showing -- the shocker on a night of election surprises and disappointments for Washington-based politicians like Mr. Bush and Democratic Sens. Bob Kerrey and Tom Harkin.

Mr. Buchanan, a commentator and columnist who had never run for office before, had come closer than expected to unhorsing Mr. Bush in the state that gave the president a crucial primary victory in 1988.

"We expected a breakthrough," said Ms. Buchanan, who had hoped for a percentage in the low 30s. "We got a victory."

"I think it shows there's tremendous dissatisfaction with the Bush direction in the White House," she said, addressing the crowd outside that couldn't come in. "He's lost touch with the average American. And this is the beginning of a middle-class revolution."

Chuck Douglas, a former congressman who was one of the few Republican politicians here willing to support Mr. Buchanan, denied it was just a protest vote against President Bush.

"It shows there is tremendous support for someone who has a commitment to his ideas, his ideals, and that person is Pat Buchanan," he said. "It is certainly not George Bush."

Referring to states like South Dakota where Mr. Buchanan has faced resistance getting on the ballot, Mr. Douglas said, "They're scared and that's why they don't want us on the ballot."

The night really belonged to Mr. Buchanan's supporters, the conservative faithful who flocked to his candidacy from around the country. They are self-styled true believers who feel betrayed by Mr. Bush.

When Mr. Buchanan aired advertisements mocking Mr. Bush's broken 1988 campaign pledge, "read my lips, no new taxes," the message struck a deep chord.

Late in the campaign Mr. Buchanan moved beyond attacks to proposing a cobbled-together "America First" program promising tax cuts, cuts in foreign aid and a hard-ball trade stance against Japan.

With 7 percent of New Hampshire unemployed in the recession, Mr. Buchanan won support for criticizing Mr. Bush as the "world leader" who ignored America.

Voters like Francis Berwick, who had lost a job in the recession, went to the polls angry.

"I had made up my mind who I was against when the economy fell," Mr. Berwick said after he voted at St. Peter's Parish Hall in Concord.

George O'Neill, one of Mr. Buchanan's volunteers in New Hampshire, vowed to follow Mr. Buchanan to other primary states.

"We're here to stay," he said. "We'll stick with it through the bitter end."

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