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San Francisco Chronicle
July 12, 2000



SACRAMENTO -- A quantum physicist who taught at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa is trying to wrest the Reform Party presidential nomination -- and $12.6 million in federal matching funds that go with it -- from Pat Buchanan.

Although John Hagelin, who was the Natural Law Party candidate for president in 1996 and again this year, has no illusions about winning the presidency, it is clear even with his mild, button-down manner that he wants to thrash his conservative opponent, a former TV commentator and GOP presidential candidate.

"What Buchanan stands for is not what the Reform Party stands for," Hagelin said during a mashed potatoes and lobster tail lunch near the Capitol on Tuesday. "He has a very narrow message, a message of intolerance."

Hagelin contends that Buchanan is "alienating most of the women and minorities in the Reform Party -- certainly African American and gay members of the party. It's not an inclusive message."

The Buchanan campaign declined to comment on Hagelin's charges....

Hagelin wants to see his candidacy backed by a coalition of other third parties.

He says the positions of the Natural Law Party, founded in 1992 by 12 people in Hagelin's hometown of Fairfield, Iowa, are broader than those of the Reform Party, but that the two platforms are a good fit.

"The Reform Party vision was to be a mainstream centrist alternative -- of, by and for the people, not financed by the special interests," Hagelin said. "The Natural Law platform has extended those core reforms to what's working in preventative health care, sustainable agriculture, education." ...

The party also supports teaching meditation to prison inmates to reduce recidivism, placing a moratorium on genetically engineered food and promoting the use of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

In San Francisco Wednesday, Hagelin charged Buchanan with illegally enlisting thousands of unqualified GOP supporters to cast Reform ballots on his behalf.

Hagelin said Buchanan has attempted to subvert the party's nomination process and has refused requests by party officials to turn over lists of supporters to be verified as qualified voters.

"I have witnessed over the past months efforts to compromise the open, democratic nature of the Reform Party, through Pat Buchanan and his brigaders steamrolling over longstanding Reform Party leadership and supporters in state after state," said Hagelin....

Hagelin charges that Buchanan is trying to stack the deck by submitting a 400,000-person list of voters which Hagelin does not have access to. The Reform Party executive committee was expected to vote Wednesday night on whether Buchanan would be required to turn over the documents, according to secretary Jim Mangia, a Hagelin backer.

Some party members, though, are irked that Hagelin has pledged to run as the Natural Law nominee should he lose his fight against Buchanan.

"If the Reform Party becomes the Buchanan party, America is going to need a voice of reform," Hagelin responded....

One thing Hagelin has going for him is Doonesbury's skewering of Buchanan and his campaign manager sister, Bay.

The character Uncle Duke is seeking the Reform Party nomination but is constantly thwarted by close-cropped, Neo-Nazi-like youth who call Bay Buchanan "Frau Buchanan" and report to her that Duke is "using Democratic processes to secure delegates loyal to him."

Says Hagelin: "Garry Trudeau, insightful as always."

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