Endorsements Fail to Provide Dole Winning Advantage: GOP Sees More Passion in Buchanan

Article excerpt

Republican leaders think the huge advantage Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has in congressional endorsements will not help him much if he cannot match the grass-roots excitement in Pat Buchanan's campaign.

Some GOP leaders and rank-and-file members of Congress now believe that Mr. Buchanan has a passion and commitment among his core supporters that are missing from Mr. Dole's candidacy.

"Pat Buchanan is running a campaign that stands on principle, but Dole and Lamar Alexander seem to be running away from principle," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, who is not supporting any candidate for now.

Mr. DeLay, who had backed the failed candidacy of Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, said Mr. Buchanan's image as a candidate "who stands for something" is one of the crucial reasons he beat Mr. Dole in the New Hampshire primary despite the Kansan's huge early lead in endorsements from the party establishment.

Mr. Dole has more than 100 House Republicans supporting him, along with 37 senators and 24 governors. Mr. Buchanan has no endorsements from members of Congress; one governor, Mike Foster of Louisiana, has endorsed him.

The other candidates have not done much better than Mr. Buchanan on Capitol Hill. Sen. Richard G. Lugar has the home support of Indiana's members of Congress, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has the backing of that state's delegation.

Steve Forbes has the support of two House Republicans. All the candidates have many endorsements among state and local officials and other political leaders.

Mr. DeLay said Mr. Buchanan has been unable to attract any support in the House, especially among its strongly conservative freshman class, because "his positions on economic issues, protectionism and tariffs scare most of us off."

Nevertheless, Mr. Buchanan's strong second-place finish in Iowa and his narrow win in New Hampshire show that endorsements in Washington do not necessarily win elections.

"I've never been a believer that endorsements win you the election. If you have a congressman supporting you, that's not half as important as committed, enthusiastic grass-roots support," Mr. …