His campaign is now just a crusade.
Acknowledging that the Republican presidential nomination is out of reach, Patrick Buchanan Wednesday said he is staying in the race to ensure that the party’s conservative voice is heard at its convention in August.
“We are about changing America, changing the Republican Party, moving the center of gravity of America to ideas I think are best for the country,” Buchanan told a rally of supporters here. “Bob Dole’s campaign is an empty vessel. We can fill that vessel with our ideas. We are going to go to the convention and fight for the ideas we believe in.”
Buchanan said it would take “a breakthrough” for him to get the nomination after Dole’s eight-state primary sweep Tuesday. He said that he had not expected to do well Tuesday in the New England states but that he was somewhat disappointed about his second-place finish in Georgia.
“Clearly, we wanted to do much better there,” he said. “That would have been our big break.”
Without that break, Buchanan said, the focus of the campaign shifts from winning the nomination to holding Dole’s feet to the fire on a conservative agenda that includes an anti-abortion plank and more stringent trade regulations in the Republican platform.
“The cause is more important than the man,” Buchanan told enthusiastic supporters in Tampa. “Mr. Dole refuses to take a pledge to keep the party pro-life. He’s indicated he might pick a pro-choice running mate. I don’t know what Bob Dole thinks he can get by courting the left-wing portion of the Republican Party.”
So Buchanan marches on, searching for victories and delegates that will enable him to have a bigger voice and greater influence at the Republican convention in San Diego in August. Buchanan was a prime-time speaker at the Houston convention four years ago, and some Republicans blamed his harsh rhetoric in part for the victory of President Clinton.
The commentator said he will campaign vigorously in the South - particularly in Florida and Texas, which hold primaries Tuesday - and define Dole as “the tax collector for the welfare state.”