Analysis: Challenge by 'honest Republican'

By JILLIAN JONAS, UPI National Political Analyst   |   Jan. 25, 2004 at 11:00 AM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- While much of the nation focuses on the horserace in New Hampshire's upcoming Democratic presidential primaries, few Americans realize that 14 individuals are running to challenge President George Bush in the Republican primary.

New Hampshire is a magnet for candidates because it's the country's first scheduled primary -- Tuesday this time around -- and because it's easy to get on the ballot, according to Andy Smith, director of the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, which tracks the political goings-on in the Granite State. Candidates are only required to pay $1,000 to qualify for the ballot.

"Three types of candidates run in New Hampshire," Smith said. "There are the very principled kind, the ones who take running very seriously, running across the political spectrum. There are the kinds who are running as a goof. And then, there are those who are unhinged."

Republican and "citizen's candidate" John Buchanan, is probably a little of all three.

Originally running as the "9/11 Truth Candidate," Buchanan is perhaps best known for being the journalist who uncovered, among other things, supposed evidence of war profiteering by the Bush and Harriman families with companies doing illegal business with the Nazis.

Using recently unsealed National Archive documents, Buchanan stumbled onto this information while doing research for a screenplay and was shocked, both by the revelations and what he believes is by the documents' subsequent disregard by the mainstream media.

Ultimately, Buchanan himself wrote a series in the New Hampshire Gazette, the nation's oldest newspaper.

Buchanan said his work as a journalist into the government's role leading to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration's relationship with big business and industry and the disputed reasoning for invading Iraq made him see a need for change in Washington.

"Anyone who would dismiss his work, at least on the Nazi piece, as the work of a conspiracy theorist, is deluding themselves," said Gazette Editor Steven Fowle.

Initially, Buchanan pursued the 9/11 issue because he thought it was the only way he could get interest in his campaign. But after spending weeks campaigning, he says he realized New Hampshire voters are outraged by what he terms the dishonesty of the Bush administration and its lack of focus on local issues such as jobs.

Also billing himself as a "honest Republican," Buchanan believes it has been the "human connection" to people that made voters pay attention to him because he's "the guy just like us," and stands up for people.

At several campaign events -- predominantly for fringe candidates -- Buchanan said he received standing ovations.

"No one was more astonished than I was that this country is so screwed up that I would be taken so seriously," he said.

Buchanan maintained he was drafted to run after a month of convincing by Earth Day founder and former Republican, John McConnell, who said he was "very taken with what he read" by Buchanan.

"John Buchanan offers the best chance of moving things in the right direction ... (away from the one) the country has taken and providing a future of peace and justice," added McConnell.

It's not been a particularly easy time for Buchanan, though. Between his filing date in November and New Year's Day, he raised $126. "I've only been alive one day at a time," he said, adding that he frequently had less than $10 in his wallet.

Yet, something must be catching on, because over January, Buchanan claims to have raised between $5,000-$6,000 through his campaign Web site. Almost $2,000 of that has been spent producing and airing his own "People's State of the Union Address."

As with most fringe candidates, getting on individual state ballots can be an imposing challenge. Buchanan's Deputy Campaign Manager Mimi Adams said they have about 12 volunteers around the country "working our way through the ballot process as we can go."

Adams, who is not a professional campaign operative, described of the process: "I had no idea how many people were just shut out. And I wouldn't have known if I hadn't asked. If nothing else, this should be public education of what people can do to get involved."

The hope is that if he can garner 12-15 percent of the Republican and Independent vote in New Hampshire, depending on turnout, Buchanan will have one delegate at the Republican National Convention in New York, where he'll try "to force the truth onto the public."

Buchanan's ire isn't directed exclusively at the Bush administration for its "lies to the American people" about Sept. 11 or the Iraq invasion, or at the Bush family. In fact, he's outraged by the cover-up he alleges took place by the corporate-owned media.

To wit, Buchanan plans to release a list naming every news organization that refused to review his Bush-Nazi documentation. He's also filing a lawsuit he hopes will force the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether there "is a public trust in the media as envisioned by the founding fathers who specifically thought fostering dissent on every issue of the day is the lifeblood of democracy."

But, for the next 48 hours, Buchanan's focus is Election Day, where "he'll campaign as hard as I possibly can because individual voters" are what's driving him.

No matter what happens Tuesday, John Buchanan sounds like he has no regrets.

"These have been the best 19 consecutive days of my life ... my life has been transformed, and I'm a better person for it. I'd forgotten that mere people really can make a difference," he said.

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