Reform tug-of-war in the making

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 13, 1999

Politics make strange bedfellows.

Monday, September 13, 1999

Politics make strange bedfellows. And, the strangest may be yet to come.

Email newsletter signup

Imagine the likes of our own Gov. Jesse Ventura on the Reform Party convention dais with current GOP presidential contender Pat Buchanan.

One will be appearing in next month’s Playboy magazine and the other would likely want to outlaw it.

They could both be sharing a political platform in 2000.

At least, that’s what Buchanan announced yesterday as he came as close as possible to saying he would quit the Republican race and campaign for the Reform Party’s nomination – without actually committing.

The conservative who stands as firm on pro-life politics as anyone in the national spotlight, said he’s looking to turn his back on his current party’s wishy-wash social stances.

Appearing on NBC’s &uot;Meet the Press,&uot; Buchanan said he is being swayed by the belief that &uot;my party at the national level has become a Xerox copy basically of the Democratic Party. … I think what we have is a one-party system in Washington that is masquerading as a two-party system, and I think what we need is a real opposition party.&uot;

He said the Reform Party could be just that party.

While he said many of his conservative views will fit well with the Reform Party headliners, he seemed to admit possible controversy in regards to his social stances on the likes of abortion.

Still, he noted that the Reform Party stands chiefly on economic and other policy issues and leaves social and moral decisions to the individual.

He sees himself merely as an individual with strong, laid-out opinions.

But, Ventura says those opinions won’t fit in his party.

The governor has said the Reform Party is based on solely conservative economic principles, not Buchanan’s social conservatism.

He has also stated that the party will not become the dumping station for &uot;a retread from another campaign or another party.&uot;

As a party leader, Ventura has ruled out the nomination. As an ever-hopeful candidate, Buchanan hasn’t.

Who will win in the battle of strong wills and public relation savvy?

That’s up for the party to decide.

Ventura has proven his ability to bring members together and weaken other party leaders. He has taken the reigns of a party whose platform he was unsure of a year ago.

But, Buchanan’s determination and desire to lead a truly conservative party can’t be ruled out. He has many followers willing to take any challenging path he heads down.

An early private poll conducted by Frank Luntz, a GOP consultant, shows Buchanan would win 6 percent of the vote in a three-way contest with GOP front-runner George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, who is leading for the Democratic nomination.

While small numbers, those are determined without factoring in all the potential Reform Party members who would vote for their ticket, regardless of the candidate.

If Buchanan is able to out maneuver Ventura’s roadblocks and find his way to the nominee’s podium, he likely has a chance at making a bigger dent in the presidential election than past hopeful Ross Perot.

But, he also stands a chance at disorganizing a party currently coming into its own.

With Ventura’s racy persona placed alongside Buchanan’s ultra-conservatism, mixed messages will be sent and Reformers will likely be left wondering what is actually being reformed.