Second in a series of profiles of the leading Republican candidates for president.
When the police stopped a 20-year-old college student for speeding one night in 1959, they probably figured the guy would just roll his eyes and pay the ticket.
Poor officers. They didn't know Patrick J. Buchanan.
Buchanan cussed the police. He kicked one of them "where I thought it might do some good."
He promptly was arrested for felony assault (later reduced to a misdemeanor) and expelled from Georgetown University for a year. Meanwhile, two injured officers were sent to Georgetown Hospital.
Buchanan readily admits this was "one of the great, dumb deeds of my life," but it was hardly his last fight.
In his long career in journalism and politics, Buchanan has become one of the nation's most combative conservatives. He fights liberals and moderate Republicans with equal vigor. He even tried to topple his own party's president, George Bush, in 1992.
Now Buchanan is running for president again, in an unusual campaign that combines conservative principles with a populist assault on free trade and corporate downsizing.
Say this about Buchanan: He does not waffle. Buchanan promises to fight abortion, fight foreign imports, fight corporate layoffs, fight pornographic art, fight immigration, fight affirmative action. At rallies he loves to mock Bill Clinton's comment, "I feel your pain." Buchanan shouts to roaring applause: "I'll put him in the crossfire. He will feel the pain!"
To anyone who has followed Buchanan's career, the intensity of his struggle is no surprise. He has always divided the world of politics into spheres of good and evil, always fought with the zeal of a crusader. He admired the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who launched sensational investigations to find Communists supposedly lurking in our government. Buchanan wrote in 1990, "Joe's lasting contribution was to have ripped the bandages off the underlying wound in America's body politic: them or us."
He first considered running for president in 1987, to vanquish "Republican Establishment" politicians like George Bush and Bob Dole. "Among the reasons I wanted to run, then, was not only to make the case for us _ but against them," he wrote later.
Now Buchanan is on another crusade, a crusade for the presidency. Supporters say Buchanan is the one Republican who can defeat the ultimate enemy, Bill Clinton.
Others call him the one candidate who could guarantee all the Republicans fail.
Firmly to the right
Two threads wind through Buchanan's career: journalism and politics. In both, he has nearly always taken the conservative side.
Buchanan was born Nov. 2, 1938 in Washington D.C., the son of an accountant, and grew up in the Chevy Chase area. He attended Catholic schools and graduated (after his one-year hiatus) from Georgetown in 1961. He graduated from Columbia University's School of Journalism in 1962 and applied to newspapers that he considered at least reasonably conservative.
His first writing job came from the St Louis Globe-Democrat, where he wrote blistering editorials for three years. But then he learned of a long-shot opportunity.
Richard Nixon, the former vice president who had lost the 1960 presidential race to John Kennedy, was preparing to run again in 1968. And he was visiting St. Louis. Buchanan arranged to meet Nixon at a cocktail party and was later hired as an aide. He eventually became a campaign press secretary and, after Nixon's victory, a White House speech writer. He began dating a receptionist at the White House. He and Shelley were married in 1971.
Buchanan greatly admired Nixon, and stayed with him until 1974, through the Vietnam War, through the divisive years of the counterculture era. In fact, he stayed at the White House a few months after Nixon resigned. Though intensely loyal to Nixon, Buchanan was among those who counseled him to resign after the Watergate scandal unfolded.
Buchanan returned to newspapering, writing a syndicated column on politics. Later he became host of a CNN political show called Crossfire. Commentary has been his main vocation since, although he returned to the White House as President Reagan's communications director from 1985 to 1986.
In all these years, Buchanan's ideology remained firmly to the right _ a hardliner on the Soviets, a strict abortion opponent, an opponent of new taxes. He was at home under Nixon and Reagan, less so under the more moderate President Ford.
Still, many Republicans were shocked when Buchanan in 1992 decided to run against President Bush. "There was a lot of inconclusive chatter regarding his motivations _ why a good Republican would jeopardize the entire party's future for his own individual agenda," Bush campaign official Mary Matalin later wrote.
But Buchanan ran, embarrassing Bush in primary after primary in a campaign that both men ended up losing.
On Wednesday, dozens of journalists flew into Tampa on an airplane chartered by the Buchanan campaign. It's quite possible that the most talented political writer in the entire group was none other than Patrick J. Buchanan.
Buchanan's success so far _ he won the New Hampshire primary and the Louisiana caucus _ can be partly attributed to the sharp, direct way he delivers his message.
Buchanan on abortion: "I am pro-life. I will keep the Republican Party pro-life. I will chose a pro-life running mate. And I will be the most pro-life president in the United States of America!"
Buchanan on affirmative action: "Affirmative action _ no matter how benign its original purpose _ belongs to the same graveyard as its cousin, the late Jim Crow."
Buchanan on U.S. soldiers under United Nations command: "When I'm elected president, never again will young Americans be sent into battle, except under American officers."
Buchanan on government arts funding: "We're going to walk over to the the National Endowment for the Arts and we're going to shut it down!"
Buchanan has pledged not only to reduce illegal immigration by erecting a massive fence alongside the Mexican border, he would stop legal immigration for five years.
Buchanan also has been outspoken in his attack this year on trade policy and corporate layoffs. These are two issues, maybe the only two issues, in which Buchanan has broken dramatically with traditional conservative ideology. These stands have won him some votes, but also alienated some economic conservatives.
Buchanan slams the trade agreements GATT and NAFTA because they are "surrenders of American sovereignty." He calls for a 20-percent consumption tax on all Chinese goods imported into the United States and a 10-percent tax for Japanese goods. He also has skewered corporations such as AT&T (whose stock he invests in) who raised profits by firing thousands of workers.
"Even my critics," he says, "will say, "Pat Buchanan's a man who says what he means.' "
Actually, Buchanan's critics accuse him of meaning more than what he says. Some say that his statements are subtly racist and anti-Semitic.
Buchanan has criticized what he termed the "Amen corner" of pro-Israel forces in America and has called Congress "Israeli-occupied territory." He also has vigorously opposed the prosecution of certain ex-Nazis. His old Nixon White House colleague, New York Times columnist William Safire, has said Buchanan's writings and statements rank about a four on a scale of anti-Semitism in which one is unprejudiced, and 10 is Hitlerian.
Last week in South Carolina Buchanan strongly backed the state's right to fly the Confederate flag over the state Capitol. "We cannot turn our back on our heritage. What kind of country are we?"
But when addressing the issue of whether Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday should be a federal holiday, he wrote: "The triumphant humanists have no reservations about imposing their household gods on us."
While working in the Nixon White House, Buchanan wrote a memo to the president recommending the appointment of an "ethnic Catholic" to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Not blacks, not Jews, but ethnic Catholics _ Poles, Irish, Italians, Slovaks etc. _ are where the ducks are," he wrote.
He also wrote to Nixon that "the ship of integration is going down; it is not our ship; it belongs to national liberalism."
Buchanan denies any prejudice. But his campaign has been embarrassed after attracting people with links to white supremacist and militia groups. The campaign's national co-chairman, Larry Pratt, was linked by the media to such groups (though he denies any affiliation).
Pratt stepped down. But even this week, the Buchanan campaign was still using letterhead that identified him as national co-chairman.
"The only option': fight on
Ray Moore is a 25-year-old law student in Columbia, S.C., and a graduate of The Citadel, the all-male military school. Moore is frustrated with moderate Republicans and what he sees as their weak stands on social issues. They say they oppose abortion, but nothing ever changes. And now, Moore fears that his alma mater, The Citadel, will be forced to admit women.
Moore enthusiastically supports Buchanan for his strong stance on abortion, for keeping The Citadel all-male and for other issues.
"It's probably too late to help The Citadel with a vote for Pat Buchanan, but it might help with the next issue that comes along," Moore said.
Thomas Grossman supports Buchanan too, but on economic issues, not social ones. Grossman owns a textile company in Florence, S.C., that manufactures ladies sportswear. He likes Buchanan's promise to slap big tariffs on foreign goods.
"Actually, when it comes right down to it, I don't think there's anything wrong with a certain amount of protectionism," said Grossman, who is 67. "The federal government needs to protect its citizens."
But Nancy Bostock, a Republican precinct committeewoman in Pinellas County, finds Buchanan's trade stance more troubling. She said she believes in free trade. She is not actively supporting the Buchanan campaign this year, although she and her husband both supported him in 1992. They supported Phil Gramm until he dropped out of the race.
Others are troubled by the charges of anti-Semitism and racism. Watson Haynes, who has worked to attract fellow African-Americans to Pinellas County's Republican Party, said he reads subtle messages in Buchanan's speeches. When he hears Buchanan address an all white audience and say "We are going to take back America," he suspects that "We" does not include many minorities.
With Dole's victory in eight primaries Tuesday, Buchanan faces a formidable battle for the nomination. Anyone who thinks he will give up the fight has not read him:
"The only option the traditionalist and the conservative have, then, is never to cease struggling _ until we have re-created a government that conforms, as close as possible, to our image of the Good Society, if you will, a Godly country. That struggle will be endless; and it will define us, test us and likely provide us the only temporal reward we shall know."
_ This story includes information from Right from the Beginning by Patrick J. Buchanan; All's Fair by Mary Matalin and James Carville; and the Associated Press.
THE '96 RACE
Television commentator, newspaper columnist, former White House aide to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan
Born: Nov. 2, 1938, Washington, D.C.
Education: A.B. (English), Georgetown University, 1961; M.S. (Journalism), Columbia University, 1962
Military service: None
Family: Married Shelley Ann Scarney in 1971, no children