Buchanan expects a struggle in primary He invites voters in Md. who supported Gramm to back his candidacy

Campaign 1996

March 03, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Breezing through Maryland in search of votes in Tuesday's presidential primary, Patrick J. Buchanan invited former supporters of Sen. Phil Gramm to join him "as the last conservative in this race who can win."

Mr. Buchanan, the TV commentator with the fervent America-first message, paused on his blistering, cross-country campaign to meet the news media yesterday on the 21st floor of the World Trade Center in downtown Baltimore. With Baltimore harbor -- and by extension the busy port of Baltimore -- as a backdrop, Mr. Buchanan pledged as president to preserve American jobs, stop illegal immigration and protect the rights of the unborn.

But first, Mr. Buchanan, who never has held elective office, must win the Republican nomination. And Maryland, along with the seven other states holding primaries Tuesday, will wield great influence on the outcome.

"It is a state I'd love to win," Mr. Buchanan said of the Maryland primary. "It's an uphill battle."

He acknowledged that Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is the front-runner here. Mr. Dole, who boasts the one remaining statewide, grass-roots organization, plans to campaign in Maryland today -- at a 12:30 p.m. public rally at the Montgomery County fairgrounds and a 3 p.m. private meeting with veterans at American Legion Post 22 in Towson.

Mr. Gramm, before quitting the race last month, had the other state organization. It was headed by Ellen R. Sauerbrey, perhaps the state's most popular Republican.

"We'd love to have her support," Mr. Buchanan said, "but we do not."

In an interview yesterday after Mr. Buchanan's comments, Mrs. Sauerbrey said she probably would not endorse a candidate before the primary but would work to unite the state's Republicans behind the eventual nominee.

"If our nominee is going to win," Mrs. Sauerbrey said, "we cannot lose any segment of our party."

She said she did not agree with Mr. Buchanan's economic proposals. He advocates tougher trade policies, including tariffs countries such as Japan and China.

"We've got to start exporting more goods and stop exporting our factories and exporting our jobs," he said yesterday. "If we continue these trade deficits, we will totally hollow out America's manufacturing base -- the source of our economic strength, and the source of our military power and global power.

"If this continues, the United States will not remain the greatest nation on Earth in the 21st century for very long."

Mr. Buchanan said he is the one candidate who can defeat President Clinton. "My friend Beltway Bob," he said of Mr. Dole, "doesn't understand it doesn't have a clue" about how to protect American jobs or inspire American citizens.

As Mr. Buchanan left his news conference, which was closed to the public, a dozen protesters shouted and held signs denouncing his opposition to a woman's right to abortion and his perceived biases against certain groups. Two signs read: "Racism Is Ignorance," and "Caution -- Religious Bigot Inside."

A few feet away, about 30 Buchanan supporters waved "Buchanan for President" signs and chanted, "Go, Pat. Go!" No incidents resulted, although members of each group engaged in debate.

"I oppose Buchanan," said Lisa Oelfke, 23, of Baltimore. "I think he's an extremist. He's pro-life, and I'm pro-choice."

John Ramsey, 35, of New Carrollton, said he supported Mr. Buchanan because of his anti-abortion views. "They said Ronald Reagan was an extremist in 1980," Mr. Ramsey said.

Mr. Buchanan was unfazed. As he left the World Trade Center and entered a silver Chrysler New Yorker about 11:15 a.m., he looked straight at a protester who chanted, "Heil, Buchanan! Heil, Buchanan!"

Mr. Buchanan flashed a broad smile, and then he was gone -- off to Massachusetts, then to Maine and south to Georgia by midnight.

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