GOP is now glad Buchanan bolted party

Posted: Friday, August 11, 2000

The following editorial appeared in Thursday's edition of the Wichita Eagle:

Many Republicans were nervous when Pat Buchanan bolted their party. Now they're relieved - and with good reason.

Rather than fragmenting the GOP and enabling a Democratic victory in November, Mr. Buchanan's departure seems to have solidified the GOP and improved its electability.

Without Mr. Buchanan's acerbic rhetoric in Philadelphia last week, the GOP was able to present - Democrats would say choreograph - a convention free of public rantings against gays, immigrants, affirmative action or anyone who isn't 100 percent pro-life - though the GOP platform still reflects many of these positions.

Consequently, GOP candidates George W. Bush and Dick Cheney now enjoy strong appeal among the independent voters needed to capture the White House. In fact, a Reuters/Zogby poll of likely voters, taken immediately following the GOP convention, showed that George W. Bush holds a 25 percent lead over Vice President Al Gore among independents (and a 17 percent lead overall).

Meanwhile, Mr. Buchanan is creating havoc in the Reform Party, whose national convention has been going on in Long Beach, Calif. Mr. Buchanan has been locked in a bitter fight for the party's presidential nomination that resulted in an angry walkout by party leaders on Tuesday.

What especially concerns many Reform Party members is Mr. Buchanan's effort to change the party's focus from governmental reforms to his social crusades.

``Pat Buchanan makes it clear he wants to make this a far-right party,'' said Ida True Terry of Topeka, the Kansas Reform Party's secretary. ``It would put the Reform Party on the small corner of the bell curve, which means you will not accomplish anything.''

Polls numbers also reflect that. The Reuters/Zogby survey shows Mr. Buchanan attracting only 1 percent of voters.

Thus, after weakening the 1992 campaign of former President George Bush and the 1996 campaign of Bob Dole, Mr. Buchanan seems to have finally found a way to help the Republican Party: by leaving.

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