If you had to guess the name of the spot Pat Buchanan would pick for his debut on the fall campaign trail, Friendly Farm wouldn't be high on the list.
But that's where the combative Mr. Buchanan appeared last night near Westminster, at a $40-a-ticket fund-raiser for Roscoe Bartlett, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 6th District.
"Friendly" is not usually a word associated with the style of the conservative commentator and columnist, whose no-holds-barred approach rattled President Bush in the Republican primaries before Mr. Buchanan turned his rhetorical guns on the Democrats at the Republican Convention last month. But his style was quite friendly among the more than 100 people who turned out for the event as his face crinkled easily into a smile often during the more than two hours he stayed.
"You know, near here is where Whittaker Chambers had the farm where he hid the pumpkin papers," he said just after posing in front of a painted bucolic farm scene with those who paid an extra $100 for a picture. "So among old-time conservatives, Westminster, Maryland, was always something of a shrine."
Little has been seen of Mr. Buchanan since his convention speech, which launched attacks on gays and Hillary Clinton and a variety of other favorite targets in what he described as a cultural war over values.
Indeed, the speech was so controversial that some thought the GOP might ask Mr. Buchanan to keep a low profile during the fall race. But at a breakfast meeting yesterday in Washington, he said that was not the case.
"I came out of the convention and went on vacation until Labor Day," he said of his absence from the scene. "I came back and was surprised to learn that my speech was still a subject of interest, and that it still is. "How many other convention speeches are they still talking about four weeks later?" Mr. Buchanan asked.
He had no apologies for his approach, or its tendency to divide the country. "In an election, what happens at the end of the day, is that you divide the house," he said.
"I think the object of this campaign is to put together the largest group on our side of the issues that agree with us. There is not anything wrong with us taking a stand with the majority of Americans on traditional values."
"Values are the Vietnam of this generation," he said last night at the end of a talk that focused mainly on the presidential race. "They will divide the nation as we fight and argue over what is right and wrong, good and bad."
Buchanan's stance certainly didn't dissuade the Bartlett campaign, which invited him to make the appearance last night and is paying his expenses.
"I think that Pat Buchanan represents a sizable segment of our voters here in the 6th District," Mr. Bartlett said. "You have to understand that 6th District is atypical of Maryland. It is a conservative district, a Republican district. Whenever we have a clear choice, our district votes 2-to-1 for the conservative."
Mr. Bartlett is locked in what most see as a close race in a district (which includes Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties, plus part of Howard) without an incumbent since Del. Thomas Hattery, the Democratic nominee, defeated Rep. Beverly B. Byron in the March primary. Campaign filings show that Mr. Bartlett trails badly in fund-raising.
Mr. Buchanan, who described himself as the "celebrity" who helps to attract crowds to fund-raisers, said requests are coming in from Republican congressional candidates across the country.
He plans stops in four districts in North Carolina for the remainder of this week and said he expects to have a full schedule between now and Election Day.
"I have two people working for me now who are on the Republican National Committee payroll," he said, indicating that he was meeting with RNC officials yesterday afternoon.