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Buchanan calls for stricter controls on immigration

By Kris Mayes
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 12, 2000 15:58

In a sweep through Phoenix today to put his Reform party on the Arizona ballot, presidential candidate Pat Buchanan vowed to make the issue of illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign.

The candidate said illegal immigration and related tension along the Arizona border near Douglas has become a national issue.

Buchanan said the Republican and Democratic candidates have sidestepped the matter for political convenience.

"I think they are terrified of being called politically incorrect," Buchanan said. "They are terrified that someone will say they are anti-immigrant."

Buchanan turned in more than 21,000 signatures to the Secretary of State -- 8,000 more than was required to get the Reform party on the Arizona ballot in November.

"We are on course to get the Reform Party or my name on the ballot in all 50 states by November," Buchanan declared in front of the state Capitol, with about 20 of his local supporters standing nearby.

Buchanan heralded his polling numbers in Arizona, which until recently have been significantly higher than in most other states. A March KAET-TV/Arizona State University poll showed Buchanan with 18 percent support. That compares with Texas Gov. George W. Bush at 39 percent and Vice President Al Gore at 36 percent.

"That is phenomenal in Arizona, and I wish it were true nationally," Buchanan said, referring to the initial poll.

However, a separate KAET released on May 24 showed Buchanan's support had dropped off sharply, to 4 percent.

Buchanan will seek the Reform party nomination at its national convention, scheduled for Aug. 10-13 in Long Beach, Calif.

Despite Buchanan's inability to gain national traction, his state director predicted success in November. He cited voter dissatisfaction.

"The two major parties are only arguing over the details and not the direction the country ought to be going in," said Russ Wittenberg. "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have merged into the same bird."