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Buchanan: Country in ‘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. He planned to announce his running mate Friday and give an acceptance speech Saturday.

Followers of party founder Ross Perot held their own convention next door to their adversaries’. They declared it the ``true″ nominating gathering and rallied behind nuclear physicist John Hagelin.

Reconciliation talks between the factions broke down, all but ensuring that federal election officials _ and perhaps eventually a court _ would decide the outcome of the twin nominations.

The Perot-Hagelin wing filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission contending that Buchanan’s forces illegally rigged the process and seeking to block Buchanan from getting the $12.5 million the government will award the nominee.

Hagelin supporters on Friday filed a second complaint on the same grounds based on more detailed information and allegations from faction leader Jim Mangia.

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.

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.

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

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

``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.

Hagelin appeared to respond to Buchanan in his own speech to 1,000 people, including more than two dozen party activists from New York who contended they were expelled from Buchanan’s 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.″

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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