Patrick J. Buchanan Monday joined the growing list of candidates seeking the 1996 Republican presidential nomination with a pugnacious, “America first” message of economic nationalism, restored U.S. military muscle and a pledge to wage and win a cultural war.
Buchanan, the conservative commentator whose 1992 challenge to George Bush helped plant the seeds of the former president’s defeat, claimed that, unlike his rivals for the nomination, he is not a “leap-year conservative.”
Buchanan said that many of the issues he campaigned on, such as affirmative action and immigration, have been adopted by other presidential candidates. “We may have lost that nomination, my friends, but you and I won the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said.
Picking up where he left off in 1992, Buchanan said, “This campaign is about an America that once again looks out for our people and our country first.”
His announcement speech was a recitation of many of the same themes that had guided his earlier candidacy, but it did not include any direct mention of abortion. Buchanan strongly opposes abortion and has said he will fight to prevent other Republicans from diluting or dumping the strong antiabortion language in the 1992 Republican platform.
The former White House speechwriter proudly cast himself in opposition to the “custodians of political correctness” in calling for tougher laws to defend America’s borders against illegal immigration and in waging the battle on behalf of “eternal truths” from the Bible. He said those lessons are being systematically “expelled from our public schools” and replaced by “moral relativism” and “propaganda of an anti-Western ideology.”
Buchanan said the history and symbols of America are under assault through a campaign to “malign America’s heroes and defile America’s past.”
He said that he would use the bully pulpit of the presidency to “chase the purveyors of sex and violence back beneath the rocks whence they came.”