Chaos at Reform Party Convention
L O N G B E A C H, Calif., Aug. 10 -- Chaos and confusion marked the Reform Party presidential nominating process today as rival factions broke away to hold two separate conventions. Hanging in the balance is $12.6 million in federal campaign funds.
The third party is now split into two camps: Supporters of candidate Pat Buchanan and opponents of the former Republican who are turned off by his socially conservative views.
With Buchanan’s “brigades” of supporters having effectively seized control of the party apparatus at national party meetings here over the last two days, his detractors, led by lesser-known Reform Party candidate John Hagelin, are crying foul over being shut out of the process.
“This party has endured a terrible catharsis,” Hagelin told delegates at a pre-convention rally at the Renaissance Hotel. “[Buchanan] has stolen approximately half the party … But look around and you’ll see that the stronger half is here!”
Backers of Hagelin, a physicist from Iowa, say Buchanan represents bigotry and intolerance rather than the socially agnostic views of the party’s founder, Texas billionaire Ross Perot.
“True reform extends beyond keeping chopsticks out of the United States!” Hagelin told supporters this morning, mocking what Buchanan’s detractors say is a protectionist platform.
“They way people handle defeat is an indication of their true character,” Bay Buchanan, the candidate’s sister and chief campaign strategist, responded today on Political Points, a joint Webcast of ABCNEWS and The New York Times.
Buchanan Opponents Turned Away
After the rally, Hagelin and a mob of hundreds of screaming supporters marched across the street and up a flight of stairs to the main hall of the Long Beach Convention Center, where the Buchanan wing of the party was set to begin its convention.
“The real reformers are here!” Hagelin declared as his delegates chanted “Go, John, go!” and “Reform! Reform!”