As I’ve watched and listened to Donald Trump’s campaign pitch over the past few months, I am regularly reminded of the Republican presidential primary campaigns that Pat Buchanan ran in the 1990s. Buchanan ran as a “pitchfork populist” in those elections, an outsider fed up with the way both parties did their business in Washington. He also championed slowing immigration into the United States and voiced skepticism about international trade deals. Sound familiar? I reached out to Buchanan to talk about Trump’s similarities and differences with him and the broader state of the Republican Party. Our conversation, conducted via email and edited only for grammar, is below.
FIX: Is Donald Trump the logical heir, issues-wise and tonally, to your presidential campaigns? Why or why not?
Buchanan: Trump is sui generis, unlike any candidate of recent times. And his success is attributable not only to his stance on issues, but to his persona, his defiance of political correctness, his relish of political combat with all comers, his “damn the torpedos” charging in frontally where others refuse to tread, as in that full retaliatory response to Hillary Clinton’s stab at him for having a “penchant for sexism.” Trump shut her down. These clashes have elated a party base that is sick unto death of politicians who never fight.
On building a fence to secure the border with Mexico, an end to trade deals like NAFTA, GATT, and [most favored nation status] for China, and staying out of unwise and unnecessary wars, these are the issues I ran on in 1992 and 1996 in the Republican primaries and as Reform Party candidate in 2000.
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