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August 25, 2000


"Our message is extremely timely and in synch with the growing majority of voters"

By Matt Bai


August 25 - A few weeks ago, John Hagelin was virtually unknown to the voting public. But now, with the Reform Party split into two factions, Hagelin, backed by followers of Ross Perot, is fighting Pat Buchanan for the right to call himself the true Reform Party nominee. If he wins, he'll suddenly have $12.5 million in federal matching funds. And he'll have to answer more questions about some of his more controversial theories. Hagelin is a Harvard-trained quantum physicist who worked on "superstring theory" at some of the world's most prestigious labs. When he was 17, however, Hagelin was in a motorcycle accident that put him in a body cast for the better part of a year. Doctors taught him to practice transcendental meditation to ease the pain, and he became a firm devotee.

In the mid-1970s, he merged his two passions--physics and meditation--by joining the Maharishi University in Iowa, which blends science and spirituality in the study of "Natural Law." ...

He ran for president with The Natural Law Party in 1992 and 1996. While he received few votes, his followers were organized enough to get him on all 50 state ballots--no easy feat. Hagelin's running mate is Nat Goldhaber, a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire.... Hagelin and Goldhaber are petitioning the Federal Election Commission for the Reform party matching funds. Hagelin took some time out from campaigning in California Thursday to talk to Newsweek's Matt Bai about his struggle with Buchanan--and his unconventional views. Excerpts: Newsweek: If the FEC decided to split the Reform matching funds, which is apparently an option, would you be satisfied with that resolution?

Hagelin: I would be disappointed because we are in the right here and are holding to principle. The Reform Party itself is dedicated to the highest ethical principles in government, and it would be disappointing if Buchanan's assault on the party's democratic principles were rewarded by the FEC in such a way. But I am in a position of strength in comparison to the Buchanan campaign, which is out of money, which has missed payroll, which has said that it must quit by the first of September if they do not get funds. My campaign is better funded and we're moving forward powerfully right now with a television ad campaign and an aggressive coalition of American third parties that will give our campaign a strength of grassroots support that has never been enjoyed by any third party effort. Who Wants to be a Millionaire Candidate?

[Newsweek:] You've gotten more media lately, and almost all reporters who've written at any length about you, including myself, have heavily referenced your history in transcendental meditation and some of the experiments you've undertaken. And I think you've resisted being portrayed in those terms. Why is that?

[Hagelin:] It would be inaccurate to portray my candidacy as overly centered around transcendental meditation or any other single issue. I have worked for close to 20 years to construct a broad-based platform of solutions that represent the most comprehensive blueprint for governing in this new millennium ever put forward by a political party. I believe, based on research, that transcendental meditation can be effective and cost effective in the prevention of stroke and heart disease. I believe it can have a role in equipping our 2 million prison inmates with the ability to cope with stresses and to reintegrate centrally into society. And it might have other roles as well. My policy and political philosophy is open and clean. That is, I will support and do support any innovative solutions, from agriculture to foreign policy, that is demonstrably effective and cost effective. I don't want to indicate that TM may not be a useful solution. It may. But the press' fascination with this is beyond my own....

[Newsweek:] Do you think people see this stuff as a little wacky?

[Hagelin:] With respect to meditation and its potential role in preventive medicine and other areas, bear in mind that 50 million Americans self report that they meditate. And the National Institutes of Health pours tens of millions of tax dollars into the research and application of meditation to prevent stroke, hypertension, heart disease. The V.A. System! The V.A. hospitals are for transcendental meditation. Tens of thousands of doctors prescribe it. Meditation has gone mainstream. Yes, it represents an aspect of my platform that may be unconventional in a political context. But as a scientist running on a political platform of 'what works,' meaning the most effective and cost-effective solutions to problems, I have to be open to solutions like meditation that might be new but may never see the light of day in Republican or Democratic politics that is bought and paid for by special interest groups...I honestly believe that our message right now is extremely timely and in synch with the growing majority of voters, who are tired of stale solutions and politics as usual.

[Newsweek:] What about your running mate, Nat Goldhaber? How much of his own money do you expect he'll give over to the campaign?

[Hagelin:] If we accept the federal funds that we anticipate, Nat and I are both limited to contributing at most $50,000 to our own campaign. We've both done that. Our campaign will be funded both by matching funds--the $12.5 million--plus another $7.5 million, at least, in contributions from grassroots supporters and contacts in California and across the country. If for some reason we don't receive the federal funds, then Nat is prepared to commit more of his own resources--far more of his own resources--to the campaign. But the main source of revenue in this campaign will be from people across the country.

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