Buchanan won the little guy Savior: Patrick J. Buchanan managed to attract Ross Perot voters and conservative Christians, while playing on the job insecurities of working-class people.

Campaign 1996

February 21, 1996|By Jules Witcover | Jules Witcover,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Amid a rollicking bedlam of singing, shouting supporters, Patrick J. Buchanan declared last night, "We have made history again," with a victory in the New Hampshire primary over Sen. Bob Dole that brought stark embarrassment to the Republican establishment.

Denouncing his foes for the negative advertising they ran against him, the fiery former news commentator proclaimed: "They did their worst. We did our best. People in New Hampshire voted their hopes, not their fears."

And targeting his opponents' consultants and ad-makers, Mr. Buchanan unleashed a roar of approval by shouting: "Take 'em back down to the Beltway!"

Mr. Buchanan confronted head-on the growing complaints within the party that he cannot be nominated or elected, declaring: "The fax machines and phones are busy in Washington, D.C.: 'Somebody's got to take this guy on!' But you need the troops."

Then, turning to his own troops, he added: "Do not wait for orders from headquarters, everybody! Mount up and ride to the sound of the guns!"

The remarks were distinctly appropriate to the rebellious, even military, air of celebration. Long before all the votes were in, jubilant Buchanan supporters were declaring success in their candidate's determined drive to open the Republican Party to more working-class Americans by responding to their job insecurity caused by foreign competition.

Mr. Buchanan promised the crowd: "We're taking back our party as a prelude to taking back our country."

For the third straight week -- after the Louisiana and Iowa caucuses -- Mr. Buchanan capitalized on those fears and dissatisfaction with the establishment to detour Mr. Dole's early hopes for a swift and easy nomination. CNN's polls of voters leaving ballot places found that Mr. Buchanan received the largest share of economically discontented voters and of former supporters of Ross Perot.

Many party leaders are concerned that as the nominee, Mr. Buchanan would insist on protectionist trade policies that are unpopular among Republicans and would cling to the 1992 party platform's opposition to abortion, or even harden it, even as moderates want to soften it. Polls indicate a clear majority of voters support a woman's right to choose.

But whether Mr. Buchanan is the nominee or not, his string of strong showings with Republican voters in Alaska, Louisiana, Iowa (where he finished a close second to Mr. Dole) and now New Hampshire virtually assures that he will be conspicuous at the party's national convention, pressing his trade and anti-abortion views.

Flying to South Carolina

Today, he is flying to South Carolina, which holds its primary March 2, then to North and South Dakota, which vote Tuesday, and on to Colorado, where the Republican primary will be held March 5. Tomorrow, he is to fly on to Arizona for the next major test, also Tuesday. A debate is scheduled tomorrow in Arizona, and party officials expect all the major candidates to take part except Mr. Dole, who is uncertain.

The Arizona primary had been expected to be a fight between Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who was endorsed by the popular Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Steve Forbes, who has pumped a reported $2 million into the state in a TV ad blitz.

But Mr. Gramm's withdrawal from the race, after his poor showings in Louisiana and Iowa, has opened the contest.

At least two other contenders -- Mr. Dole and Mr. Buchanan -- will be contending for Arizona's 39 convention delegates, the largest prize at stake so far, to be awarded on a winner-take-all basis.

In 1992, in New Hampshire, the same engine of economic insecurity drove Mr. Buchanan's candidacy of intraparty rebellion a surprising 37 percent of the vote against President Bush. He found last night that it still worked.

On Mr. Buchanan's first full day of campaigning here after the Iowa caucuses, he went to a wholesale rose-grower in Dover and trumpeted his pitch for trade restrictions on foreign competition, which the head of the greenhouse said controls 60 percent of the American market for fresh roses.

To 'keep this party pro-life'

Also, with Mr. Gramm's withdrawal from the race, Mr. Buchanan moved swiftly to consolidate his support from the Christian Coalition, pledging at a rally here, "I'm going to San Diego and personally will keep this party pro-life. We will have a pro-life running mate, and we will nominate and have confirmed pro-life justices to the Supreme Court."

Coming into New Hampshire, Mr. Buchanan did not escape the highly negative campaigning that marked the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Forbes, whose negative ads backfired on him in Iowa, largely abandoned them in New Hampshire.

But Mr. Dole turned his attacks on Mr. Buchanan as "too extreme" to be president, and on Mr. Alexander, who was rising in the polls after finishing third in Iowa.

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