Bush may be failing to thwart Buchanan's march through Ga.

March 02, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- After campaigning before assorted crowds and trotting out a variety of themes, President Bush ended a two-day Georgia election primary tour here yesterday leaving many voters unpersuaded that he deserves their support.

All weekend, Bush desperately sought an issue or a tactic to halt Pat Buchanan's insurgent Georgia challenge, which some White House strategists warn privately could be more of an embarrassment in tomorrow's presidential primary to Bush here than in New Hampshire last month.

Meanwhile, Mr. Buchanan continued to hammer Mr. Bush in public appearances and television commercials, using the same repertoire of hot-button conservative themes that has given the Republican Party a lock on the South in presidential elections since 1980.

Buchanan debuted TV ads attacking Mr. Bush for signing the 1991 Civil Rights Act, a strategy designed to attract white Democrats, especially conservatives. In Georgia, voters can vote in either party's primary. The act is aimed at curbing employment discrimination against minorities and women.

With the echo of a slamming door in the background, the ads show young white men lounging with their children as the announcer attacks Mr. Bush for signing a bill that "closes the door on their future."

As the ads began airing, Mr. Bush and a phalanx of surrogates were appealing to Republicans and so-called Reagan Democrats not let Mr. Buchanan's rhetoric lure them away.

About 15,000 people lined the riverfront in this vibrant port city to hear Mr. Bush become a cheerleader for Georgia's successful export economy and ask voters to reject the "isolationists" waving the "white flag of surrender" on world trade.

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