POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Secret Service May Help Buchanan Find Campaign Plane
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Patrick Buchanan gains Secret Service protection this week, and his aides are hoping the escorts will at least keep the candidate from getting lost.
Having agents map out routes and find exits might prevent a recurrence of the confusion that hit the Buchanan campaign Saturday at the Greenville, S.C., airport.
There, Buchanan stepped from his motorcade to an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 people who had come to see him off.
After brief remarks and a lot of hand-shaking and autographs, the conservative commentator looked around anxiously.
″We need an advance man to tell me where my plane is,″ Buchanan said.
In fact, Buchanan’s plane - an old, twin-engine propeller-driven Convair aircraft that aides dub ″Air Buchanan″ - was parked in another part of the airport.
It could be seen off in the distance, parked behind a chain-link fence.
The candidate’s motorcade had already left, so he took a hike, leading his merry band of cheering, sign-waving supporters up and down curbs and through a parking lot to the distant fence and to a gate - that was locked.
″Let me shake a few more hands,″ Buchanan improvised, cornered against the fence by the surging crowd, as aides scurried to find someone with a key.
Finally, a key was produced and Buchanan was on his way.
The candidate said a Secret Service escort would have hurt him in New Hampshire, where he wanted to move among the people as unfettered as possible.
But now that crowds have gotten bigger, and demonstrators more vocal, Buchanan told reporters he was opting for the protection of agents, available to all major presidential candidates.
And one senses that Buchanan is beginning to enjoy all the attention his strong second-place showing in New Hampshire has brought to his campaign.
He probably would enjoy whatever added prestige might come from having a Secret Service escort - particularly since he got stuck in a traffic jam caused by President Bush’s motorcade on Saturday in Charleston, S.C. ---
Buchanan may be expressing an ″America First″ platform, but as he brings his upstart presidential campaign around the country, the vehicles he uses are not all American-made.
To begin with, the commentator - who is a car buff - owns a German-built Mercedes Benz, which he uses for most of his personal driving. When criticized about having a foreign car, Buchanan quickly points out that his wife, Shelley, drives a Cadillac.
His charter plane is a twin propeller-driven Convair built in Brazil.
And when he arrived at the Orlando, Fla., airport he found that his motorcade’s lead car was a replica Stutz-Bearcat, built in 1976 in Italy, followed by a British-made Rolls Royce.
″That has me written all over it,″ Buchanan said, eyeing the Italian car appreciatively.
But the man who says he is leading a ″middle class rebellion″ decided instead to ride in the motorcade’s second car, a U.S.-built Cadillac limousine. ---
Don’t think for a minute that Buchanan isn’t enjoying all the extra attention he’s been getting. At a textile plant near Greenville, S.C., over the weekend, the candidate was given a plaque that said: ″Pride in America - Presented to the President of the United States Pat Buchanan.″
″It’s a little premature,″ Buchanan said. But he took the plaque anyway.
When he received a cap to wear as he toured the plant, Buchanan observed: ″It’s a little large.″
But, he added, ″My head has been expanding, so it should fit.″ ---
Not only does Buchanan, a former speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Reagan, write all his own stuff, but he also makes up schedules as he flies around the South.
Asked by reporters en route from South Carolina to South Carolina why he wasn’t spending more time in Georgia - whose March 3 primary is the next confrontation between Buchanan and Bush - Buchanan shrugged and said: ″I don’t know.″
″We should be spending more time in Georgia,″ he said.
He directed aides to confer with his sister and campaign chairman, Angela Bay Buchanan, to include more Georgia stops in his schedule the next few days.