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Buchanan Releases Delegates; Some Stick With Him

August 15, 1996

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Pat Buchanan released his remaining delegates to vote for Bob Dole as the Republican nominee on Wednesday and told them to let their consciences guide them.

As the roll call approached, a mere formality became a wrenching dilemma for some delegates who still wanted to voice support for Buchanan but felt pressured to project an image of party unity on national TV.

Burl Adkins, a co-chair of Buchanan’s campaign in Michigan, said he had been called names by other delegates because of his decision to vote for Dole. But he felt that was what Buchanan wanted, Adkins said.

Another Michigan delegate, Mark Forton, decided to vote for Buchanan, despite pressure from Dole campaign staff in his state.

``The intention is not to be divisive,″ Forton said. ``The intention is simply to go home and say, `I did what you wanted me to do.‴

Coming into the convention, Buchanan had just 112 delegates, down from a peak of 145, according to AP interviews with all delegates. Many were allowed to switch their support to Dole automatically.

In other states, delegates needed official word from Buchanan that they were released. He gave that at meetings with delegates Wednesday.

Under other states’ rules, delegates could not switch no matter what, once committed to Buchanan. The rest of his delegates ``ought to be entitled to vote their convictions, vote their heart and vote their conscience,″ Buchanan told reporters when asked about pressure being put on his delegates to vote for Dole.

``I think the Republican Party will survive if one person gets up and says, `I still love Pat Buchanan,′ ″ he said.

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