February 25, 1996 in Nation/World

Secret Service Disarmed Buchanan Supporter At Rally

Washington Post

Secret Service agents, in their first day on the job with Republican presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan, disarmed a gun-toting supporter waiting for him at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota last Wednesday.

Interior Department and Treasury officials identified the supporter as Art Oakes, a South Dakota rancher who recently became western South Dakota coordinator for the Buchanan campaign and who introduced Buchanan at the rally when he finally arrived more than two hours late. According to the Rapid City Journal, Oakes had been a Phil Gramm supporter until the Texas senator dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination.

Mount Rushmore Superintendent Dan Wenk would not confirm that the gun-toter was Oakes but said that “as a part of normal security, they (Secret Service agents) discovered he had a sidearm. It was a concealed, loaded weapon. He surrendered it to them.” Wenk said the weapon was returned to the owner, unloaded, after the rally was over.

Two sources said they understood Oakes said something about fears that Buchanan might be assassinated or that he mentioned the KGB or both, but Wenk said he had “no knowledge of that.” Oakes declined to say whether it was he who had the weapon or why.

“I will have no comment on that,” he said Saturday when contacted by phone. “I will not be part of the lynch mentality that is out to get Pat Buchanan.”

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