Candidate George Bush wasted no time in appealing to the military tradition of Southern voters. The day after the New Hampshire primary, he was in Knoxville, Tenn., the home state of the legendary World War I Army hero Sgt. Alvin York, to praise the state's 6,700 reservists and National Guard members who served in Operation Desert Storm. His strategy is reported to be to remind Southerners over and over again that Pat Buchanan opposed the war effort.
Mr. Buchanan appears to be planning an appeal to another Southern tradition. He has indicated he will make President Bush's signing of the new civil rights law an issue. Michael Dukakis, presently residing in Florida, must view that with amusement, as he remembers the Willie Horton ads. It would be the supreme irony if an irresponsible use of a race-related issue were to do to George Bush in 1992 what he did to Governor Dukakis in 1988.
We believe the military card will trump the race card in Tennessee and the other Southern states that will hold primaries on March 3 (the same day as Maryland's primary), March 7 and March 10. The president is way ahead down South. The latest Texas Poll shows him leading Mr. Buchanan 81 percent-10 percent, with David Duke at 3 percent.