(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan on Wednesday said the “Grim Reaper” awaits candidates who do not gain a top five finish in the Iowa Republican Party’s strawpoll on August 14. Buchanan, a third place finisher in the Iowa G.O.P. strawpoll in August, 1995, said he must emerge as the consensus candidate of conservatives.
“I think the main affect of your Iowa strawpoll is basically…the Grim Reaper is going to be waiting outside the gates of the Ames Fieldhouse and about five or six of those fellas may never survive that. I would not only include fellas. There’s a possibility that women may get damaged here,” Buchanan said, laughing as he made reference to the lone female candidate in the race: Elizabeth Dole. Buchanan claims his own July 4th victory in a New Hampshire strawpoll is an indicator he’s the strongest conservative in that early primary state.
“To be realistic, I don’t think any of those other candidates has a realistic chance,” Buchanan said.
During taping of an Iowa Public Television program, Buchanan said frontrunner George W. Bush, the Texas Governor, is the ideal foil for a Buchanan bid because he’s the candidate of the “establishment.”
“We are going to have to engage Governor Bush on the issues…and find out where he stands and what he believes,” Buchanan said. “From everything I know…you take foreign policy, you take China, you take Kosovo, you take immigration, you take right to life, Governor Bush is very, very close to Clinton and Gore and very very far away from me.”
Another republican contestant, Lamar Alexander, agreed the “stakes are high” for the upcoming strawpoll. On Wednesday evening, Alexander embarked on a bus tour of 60 of Iowa’s 99 counties — all visits to precede the strawpoll..
“There’ll be about one out of every eight Iowa caucus voters who will be at this strawpoll. The nation will get an idea…to see who is ready to be president…or which ones of us might have organizations that might be good enough to win the (Iowa) Caucuses,” Alexander said. In June on his first campaign swing through Iowa, Bush declared he would compete to win the strawpoll and Alexander admits Bush has a huge advantage heading into the contest.
“I have to do well enough so all of you (in the media) will look at that and say despite all of Governor Bush’s money and media and famous name, Lamar Alexander and (ex-Iowa Governor) Terry Branstad got out there and they went from county to county and they did very well, they exceeded expectations,” Alexander said.