- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

Onetime Republican Pat Buchanan yesterday wrapped up his conquest of the Reform Party once the political vehicle of Texas billionaire Ross Perot, but now a grouping of economic populists and social conservatives.
The Federal Election Commission yesterday gave final approval to release $12.6 million in federal funds to Mr. Buchanan. He will use the money on advertising as he kicks off his campaign in earnest with a speech on Monday at South Carolina's Bob Jones University.
John Hagelin, the physicist who contested Mr. Buchanan's takeover, conceded defeat yesterday by announcing that he was abandoning plans for a legal challenge to the FEC decision. Instead, Mr. Hagelin will campaign for president under the banner of the Natural Law Party.
"The Reform Party as envisioned by Ross Perot is dead," said Robert Roth, Mr. Hagelin's spokesman. "It is time to move on. We plan to fill the void in American politics left by the destruction of the Reform Party by Pat Buchanan."
The FEC decision was the second blow to Mr. Hagelin in as many days. On Wednesday, a California judge declared Mr. Buchanan to be the legitimate nominee of the Reform Party. Mr. Hagelin's campaign was forbidden to represent him as the Reform candidate in fund raising and advertising.
The Reform Party candidate is due the $12.6 million because Mr. Perot won 8 percent of the vote in the 1996 election.
Jubilant Buchanan forces announced that they would use the money to start a vigorous advertising campaign in an effort to jump-start a candidacy that currently hovers around 1 percent in most national polls.
"I'm feeling rich, very rich," said Bay Buchanan, Mr. Buchanan's sister and campaign co-chairwoman. "I've never had this much money in my life."
The money will go overwhelmingly toward radio advertising in a bid to boost Mr. Buchanan's profile, Miss Buchanan said. It will be spent especially on Christian and conservative talk radio. Already, ads are airing in Michigan and South Carolina.
"We're going to have to spend a million-and-a-half dollars a week. We're going to spend it on radio ads. We're going to spend it on television ads. We're going to go into states that Bush has written off," Mr. Buchanan told CNN.
Bay Buchanan said that the campaign believes it can draw significant media attention in the industrial Midwest the rust belt because this region is a battleground for the two major candidates.
Mr. Buchanan, who has been largely inactive over the last month owing to two gallbladder surgeries in the past month, will open the critical phase of his campaign with an address at Bob Jones, where Republican nominee George W. Bush gave a speech during the primaries. The symbolism, Buchanan forces said, is entirely intentional.
Mr. Bush was roundly criticized for speaking at an institution that has been accused of an anti-Catholic bias. Mr. Buchanan is Catholic.
After the speech in South Carolina, Mr. Buchanan will head to Michigan.
The infusion of badly needed cash will let the Buchanan campaign take aim at conservative voters who would most likely otherwise support Mr. Bush.
"This is certainly not good news for Bush that Buchanan now has this money," said David Gillespie, a professor at Presbyterian University in South Carolina and scholar of third-party movements in the United States.
Still, political analysts strongly doubted Mr. Buchanan would have a prayer even of reaching the 15 percent level, the threshold for participation in the presidential debates, or of being a decisive force in the election. Both Mr. Buchanan and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader have said that access to the debates is crucial for third parties, which cannot muster the financial resources of the Democrats and Republicans.
Jack Gargan, the former chairman of the Reform Party who was ousted in February, also predicted that Mr. Buchanan would fail to break out of his low poll numbers.

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