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Buchanan Condemns ‘Moral Crisis’

August 11, 2000

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Further polarizing the Reform Party, candidate Pat Buchanan bemoaned America’s ``moral crisis″ as rival factions staged separate conventions that will likely award dual presidential nominations.

Buchanan portrayed himself as the winner of the intraparty battle and the nomination, planning a Friday announcement of his running mate and a Saturday acceptance speech.

But followers of party founder Ross Perot held their own convention next door to their adversaries’, declaring it the ``true″ nominating gathering and rallying behind nuclear physicist John Hagelin.

Reconciliation talks between the factions broke down, all but ensuring that the outcome of the twin nominations would be decided by federal elections officials and perhaps ultimately by a court.

The Perot-Hagelin wing filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission contending that Buchanan’s forces had illegally rigged the process.

The action sought to block Buchanan from receiving the $12.5 million that the government will award the nominee.

Perot followers reject Buchanan’s conservative views on such moral issues as abortion, saying such matters are not part of the party’s agenda.

The former Republican further alienated them with a fiery speech Thursday denouncing ``social and moral decline and cultural decadence.″

``Rampant homosexuality, a sign of cultural decadence and moral decline from Rome to Weimar, is celebrated, as our first lady parades up Fifth Avenue to share her ‘pride’ in a lifestyle ruinous to body and soul alike,″ Buchanan said in a speech.

He warned of an America in which ``abortions replace tonsil removals as America’s most common medical procedure,″ and lambasted Hollywood for serving up ``vulgar″ entertainment.

He condemned the Democratic Party for ignoring the ``moral crisis″ and the GOP for seeking ``peace″ with gay groups.

Next door, delegates to the splinter convention received his remarks with alarm.

``It’s none of the government’s business _ government doesn’t have the moral authority to decide what individual Americans’ habits should be,″ said Paul Wilson, a delegate from Indianapolis.

``I believe Buchanan is a good man but the wrong man for the Reform Party, which was founded on libertarian principles,″ he said.

``I don’t think it’s going to serve any purpose, saying things like that, which are just inflammatory,″ said Stanley Spink, a delegate from North Kingstown, R.I., who opposes Buchanan.

``You can be sure that’s among the reasons people (in the party) have split,″ said his wife, delegate June Spink.

Hagelin appeared to respond to Buchanan in his own speech to more than 1,000 people in the breakaway convention.

The path to victory is ``not through a message of exclusivity and intolerance, not through embroiling ourselves in divisive social issues,″ he said. ``But by putting forth an inclusive message, a broad-based platform of commonsense reforms that the overwhelming majority of people support.″

Added former party chairman Russell Verney, a Hagelin backer: ``If you have hate in your heart, get out the door, we don’t want you.″

While Buchanan focused on America’s moral decline, Hagelin offered proposals on a litany of issues, including campaign-finance reform, preventive health care, clean energy, teachers’ salaries and foreign policy.

He predicted the party would rise from the disarray, declaring: ``The reports of the demise of the Reform Party are exaggerated.″

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