At the 1992 Republican convention, Patrick J. Buchanan thundered about a religious and cultural war being fought for the soul of America.
Now GOP presidential candidate Buchanan is waging war on his own party, deriding his rivals as “leap-year conservatives” whose talk seldom matches their walk on issues that matter to the right.
And when Buchanan charges that even Texas Sen. Phil Gramm is too liberal, some GOP heads are nodding in agreement.
“Dole and Gramm think they can buy the conservative movement off with the red porridge of a few speeches,” said Michael P. Farris, a Christian conservative leader in Virginia. “It just isn’t going to work.”
Trumpeting a resounding win in a weekend straw poll among Virginia Republicans, Buchanan on Tuesday pilloried front-running Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas and Gramm as “big government Republicans” who are “waffling” on the abortion issue.
The former journalist and television commentator also chided Dole for not using his parliamentary power to forestall a Senate vote on surgeon general candidate Dr. Henry Foster.
“This is an in-your-face nomination of an admitted abortionist to be America’s family doctor,” Buchanan said at a press conference.
Although the Virginia poll is an early and relatively insignificant measure of political strength, the Buchanan campaign imbued it with heavy symbolism and said it created clear momentum behind his conservative program.
“We are the authentic, populist conservative alternative to the frontrunners,” Buchanan said. “People don’t want the old politics of compromise and consensus. They want the politics of conviction.”
As he did in 1992, Buchanan is calling for an end to foreign aid.
“I think my party is mired in a Cold War mind-set five years after the Cold War has ended,” Buchanan said at Tuesday’s news conference.