Pat Buchanan presidential campaign, 2000

Pat Buchanan presidential campaign, 2000

Campaign U.S. presidential election, 2000
Candidate Pat Buchanan
Affiliation Reform Party of the United States
Status Lost election
Key people Ezola Foster, Running mate
Slogan America First!
Buchanan for President

Conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, who served as an adviser to both President Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, had twice sought the nomination of the Republican Party (in 1992 and 1996). Buchanan announced his third bid for the presidency on March 2, 1999 in New Hampshire. Buchanan announced that he was leaving the Republican Party in favor of Ross Perot's Reform Party. Buchanan's campaign was plagued by controversy, party infighting, and ultimately the Florida recount controversy. Buchanan ran on an anti-NAFTA, pro-life, anti-war, isolationist platform.


  • The primaries 1
  • Running-mate 2
  • Ad controversies 3
  • Outcome 4
  • References 5

The primaries

Pat Buchanan twice competed for the Republican Party presidential nomination. In 1996 he won the New Hampshire Primary, defeating Bob Dole by 3,000 votes. Ultimately, Dole received the party's nomination. In October 1999 Buchanan left the Republican Party, condemning both his former party and their Democratic Party rivals, saying: "Neither Beltway party is going to drain this swamp, because to them it is not a swamp at all, but a projected wetland and their natural habitat!" [1]

Reform Party founder Ross Perot did not endorse a candidate, but his former running-mate Pat Choate endorsed Buchanan.

Buchanan competed in the party's primary against the Reform Party's wealthiest contender, real estate mogul Donald Trump and against Dr. John Hagelin, a physicist from Iowa. The party soon erupted into chaos as supporters of the liberal Hagelin fought members of the "Buchanan Brigade." Trump eventually dropped out of the race, citing the party's inability to unite. At various points violent confrontation between the two groups required police intervention.[2]

During the party's convention in Long Beach, California, supporters of the two candidates split into rival factions. Both declared themselves to be the legitimate Reform Party; Buchanan was unshaped by the split, saying: "Let me say this, my friends: We are here, down here in Long Beach, to capture a nomination of the Reform Party that has been won because of what you have been doing for ten months." [3] Eventually, both groups nominated their candidate of choice, and the question as to whom would receive the party's $12.6 million was decided, in Buchanan's favor, by a court.

In his acceptance speech, Buchanan proposed U.S. withdrawal from the IMF, the WTO, the UN, and expelling the UN from New York, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, soft money, taxes on inheritance and capital gains, and affirmative action programs. Buchanan also proposed a 10% tariff of foreign imports and term-limits for members of Congress.


Buchanan had approached several individuals, including James P. Hoffa, about joining his ticket before he chose African-American activist Ezola Foster.[4] The decision appalled many white supremacists who, much to the chagrin of Reform Party members, had originally supported Buchanan's bid for the presidency.[5] As nationalist Mark Cotterill argued: "Buchanan is now part of the problem, and not part of the solution."[6]

Ad controversies

Buchanan was criticized for running ads that allegedly promoted racist ideals. One such ad included an individual choking on a meatball, unable to call for help, as the operator does not immediately respond in English.[7]


The 'butterfly ballot' was used in Palm Beach County, Florida, where Buchanan received a controversially large number of votes.
In the 2000 presidential election, Buchanan finished fourth with 449,895 votes, 0.4% of the popular vote. Hagelin garnered 0.1 percent as the Natural Law candidate. In Palm Beach County, Florida, Buchanan received 3,407 votes—which some saw as inconsistent with Palm Beach County's liberal leanings, its large Jewish population and his showing in the rest of the state. As a result of the county's now-infamous "butterfly ballot," he is suspected to have gained thousands of inadvertent votes. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer stated, "Palm Beach county is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's why Pat Buchanan received 3,407 votes there." However, Reform Party officials strongly disagreed, estimating the number of supporters in the county at between 400 and 500. Appearing on The Today Show, Buchanan said:

Some observers said his campaign was aimed to spread his message beyond his white base, while his views had not changed.[9]

Following the 2000 election, Reformers urged Buchanan to take an active role within the party. Buchanan declined, though he did attend their 2001 convention. In the next few years, he identified himself as a political independent, choosing not to align himself with what he viewed as the neo-conservative Republican party leadership. Prior to the 2004 election, Buchanan announced he once again identified himself as a Republican, declared that he had no interest in ever running for president again, and reluctantly endorsed Bush's 2004 re-election, writing:


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Tapper, Jake (2000-11-10). """Buchanan camp: Bush claims are "nonsense. Salon. Retrieved 2008-11-30. Both McConnell and Cunningham say that they agree with the comments of Buchanan himself on Thursday's "Today" show 
  9. ^ Salon News | Not standing Pat
  10. ^ Third parties seen as thread to Bush, Steve Miller, Washington Times September 10, 2004