(Des Moines, IA) Two of George W. Bush’s competitors for the Republican party’s next presidential nomination on Tuesday lashed out at the Texas Governor, suggesting he’s unprepared for higher office.
“We do not want to let the political elite pick a nominee six or eight months before the people have a say and then find out in October of 2000 that we’ve nominated someone…who is not ready to be president,” said Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee Governor, Nixon aide and U.S. Education secretary who is running for president a second time.
Three-time candidate Patrick Buchanan, a political commentator and former Nixon speechwriter, renewed his rivalry with a George Bush, only this time it’s George W. — the Texas Governor — and not the ex-President, whom Buchanan challenged in 1992 and again in 1996. “We challenged King George, as we called him in ’92, and we think we’re going to go up against the prince of Wales in 2000,” Buchanan joked with supporters at the official opening of his Iowa campaign office.
Buchanan said it’s too early to put “the crown” of the Republican presidential nomination on George W. Bush’s head.
“He is being endorsed by people who’ve never met him and don’t have the foggiest notion of where he stands on the issues,” Buchanan said. Both Buchanan and Alexander, the seasoned candidates running at a distance behind Bush in public opinion polls, said Bush was at a disadvantage in never before having run a nationwide campaign. And both aimed their fire at the “political elite” considered to be backing Bush.
“This is the same old crowd that has led us down the road to defeat before. We need to say to them, ‘Stop the parade. Let’s have an election,'” Alexander said.
Buchanan said no one, even the Washington media elite he’s left for the campaign trail, should be “anointing” Bush, yet.
The Bush attack came four days before the Texas Governor launches his out-of-Texas campaigning with a swing through Iowa and New Hampshire, complete with over 100 reporters and a stop at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“It’s my view we don’t have any idea if he’s ready to be president. He’s a popular, one-term Governor and the woods is full of popular one-term Governors….We don’t know a thing about him. I mean, most voters in Iowa couldn’t pick him out of a line-up,” Alexander quipped.
Alexander suggested the presidency is “too important to be bought, shouldn’t be inherited and ought to be earned.” Alexander announced Tuesday he has lined up campaign chairmen in each of Iowa’s 99 counties and plans to visit 60 counties before the August 14th Iowa Republican Party straw poll which will indicate campaign readiness.
Buchanan officially opened his Iowa campaign headquarters on Tuesday morning with about three dozen supporters on hand.
“This time we start with a lot of good will out here and I think we’ve got a base out there that we did not have last time,” Buchanan said.