(Des Moines, IA) Wearing his trademark French cuffs and gold cuff links, Nixon speechwriter turned television commentator Patrick Buchanan stood with his back to the crowd seating themselves on chairs. He was watching a t-v screen — watching himself speaking in a campaign videotape.
Turning to face a cluster of microphones and his Iowa campaign organizer, Drew Ivers, Buchanan asked “O.K. now, what do we do here, Drew?”
“We’re going to give you an opportunity to make another statement…” Ivers replied.
“To the folks or to the press or…” Buchanan asked. “Mostly, both,” Ivers said.
Standing in a mostly barren office (the receptionist near the front door is stationed behind a folding table), Buchanan marks the “official” opening of his Iowa campaign headquarters. Iowa is where Buchanan made a surprising, second-place finish just three percentage points behind Bob Dole in Iowa’s 1996 Caucuses. Buchanan’s 1992 bid for the White House did not start until after Iowa’s Caucuses.
This third Buchanan crusade finds some familiar faces gone to other campaigns. Veteran Iowa political organizer Loren Schulte is working for Gary Bauer. Greg Mueller, a Buchanan aide in 1996, now runs “Creative Response Concepts” which has Steve Forbes as a client. K.B. Forbes, also a Buchanan staffer in ’96, is the traveling press secretary for the magazine publisher’s second bid for the presidency, a bid in which Forbes is positioning himself as a conservative.
“They’re individuals who I’ve got alot of respect for, but I think I will emerge as the first choice of the party conservatives and traditionalists,” Buchanan said in a one-on-one interview. “I don’t think they’re working for Steve Forbes because he’s the new conservative. I think they’re working for Steve Forbes because the pay grade is a good deal higher over there than it is here.”
Buchanan’s Iowa office, recently vacated by the unsuccessful republican gubernatorial candidate in Iowa, on Tuesday served as a reception area for supporters who munched cookies and posed for pictures with Buchanan..
“There’s alot of great candidates running, but my two main issues are trade and immigration,” said Ed Kasner of Des Moines. “He’s the only one who’s speaking out on those.”
Cathie Robey of Des Moines brought her two children to the event “because I just like him. He means what he says and he says what he means. I like every issue he stands for and he’s never backed down.” Frank Brown of Des Moines supports Buchanan because of his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the “unconstitutional” war in Kosovo.
“The very things I stand for, he seems to be for, and he seems to have the energy to do something about it, too,” Brown said. One man, Karl Aschim, drove four and a half hours from Decorah, Iowa
to Des Moines to see Buchanan..
“The country needs him. He’s a real good republican and he’s also got his head screwed on straight,” Aschim said.