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USA Today
June 20, 2000


WASHINGTON (AP) - John Hagelin thinks he has a chance to beat Pat Buchanan for the Reform Party presidential nomination.

Hagelin says he can win if more voters, upset by what he considers divisive campaign tactics by Buchanan, realize they can vote in the Reform Party's open primary, which begins next month.

"I think it is the American people, not the Buchanan Brigades or anyone else, who will decide the Reform Party nomination," said Hagelin, who also is seeking the Natural Law Party's nomination.

Reform Party rules allow all registered voters, regardless of affiliation, to participate in the national primary if they register by July 1.

Voting begins July 4, when ballots are mailed to party members--and other U.S. residents who request them--and runs through the party's Aug. 10-13 convention in Long Beach, Calif.

Hagelin sees the primary as a chance to wrest the nomination from Buchanan despite the conservative commentator's efforts to consolidate power in the party.

Hagelin was joined by Reform state leaders from California, Colorado, Indiana and Washington state at a news conference Tuesday where they criticized Buchanan and urged broad participation in the primary. The state leaders support Hagelin's candidacy but fell short of formally endorsing him.

The state leaders also expressed concern about Buchanan's tactics and what they says is his desire to move the party away from political reform to further his own conservative agenda.

"I think we are in a situation in the Reform Party where there are two roads we can go down at this point, and many of us are very concerned about the direction and visions of the party" should Buchanan win the nomination, said Jim Mangia, the national party secretary from San Francisco.

The Natural Law Party was founded in 1992, and will have 1,000 candidates on ballots in all 50 states this year, according to spokesman Bob Roth. It advocates "foundational reforms" in health care, crime prevention, education and the use of renewable energy. It bases much of its party platform on finding "scientific" solutions to these issues.

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