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U.S. Taxpayers Party Wants Pat Buchanan _ Whether He Likes It or Not

April 4, 1996

It’s no secret the fledgling U.S. Taxpayers Party wants Pat Buchanan as its candidate for president. Now the party says it intends to have the unlikely GOP nominee for its own, whether Buchanan likes it or not.

Conservative activist Howard Phillips, an executive of the party, said it is considering several unconventional ways of fielding a Buchanan candidacy, even if the fiery commentator refuses to lend his name willingly.

``My first choice is Pat Buchanan as an active candidate. My second choice is Pat Buchanan as an inactive candidate,″ Phillips said Wednesday from his suburban Washington office.

``Buchanan has come to symbolize, among conservatives, holding the federal government to its constitutional limits. ... Buchanan is far and away the best candidate for our party,″ he said.

The party, which is concentrating on getting on the ballot in all 50 states, sees its main priorities are opposing abortion, limiting the powers of judges and the federal government and ``getting the United States out of the New World Order,″ Phillips said.

The party also objects to the graduated tax structure and ``the oppressive, huge, socialistic government,″ founder Dan Hansen said in a recent interview. ``Our main concern is to preserve life, liberty and property.″

Winless in 25 Republican primaries last month, Buchanan has been urged toward an independent run by many of his supporters and top aides. Though he is toying with the idea, Buchanan is said to be leery of bolting the GOP.

Buchanan spokesman K.B. Forbes refused to comment on the Taxpayers Party’s plans, saying Buchanan remains a candidate for the GOP nomination whose focus is ``ensuring the Republican Party become an inclusive party.″

``Pat Buchanan is Bob Dole’s rival and we are going to continue our campaign of ideas ... all the way to San Diego,″ Forbes said.

But Phillips said, ``If I were betting, I’d say that one way or another we will recommend in November that people vote for Pat Buchanan. But I have by no means given up hope that Pat will be our nominee.″

If Buchanan were to agree to run under the Taxpayers Party’s banner, getting him on the ballot in the 45 states with ``sore loser laws″ could present a challenge, said Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News, a San Francisco newsletter that studies independent candidates and third parties.

Such laws prohibit anyone who lost in a primary from running under another party in the general election.

However, most states do not appear to apply the law to presidential elections, Winger said. Only Ohio and Texas specifically include presidential candidates in their laws, and the Taxpayers Party has filed suit this week in Texas challenging that state’s law.

The party will decide how to proceed at its convention, scheduled for Aug. 17-18 in San Diego _ just after the Republican convention there.

Phillips said the party would campaign into the general election as the party of Buchanan _ no matter who it officially lists on petitions and ballots as its ``stand-in″ candidate.

Any electors the party won would then be directed to vote for Buchanan when the Electoral College meets in December, he said.