Should Buchanan be allowed in the debates?

madpol asked this question on 5/17/2000:

Should Pat Buchanan be allowed to participate in the Presidential Debates?
What do you see as the pros and cons of Buchanan's participation for Bush?

For Gore?

JesseGordon gave this response on 5/18/2000:

I'll address some particular issues and how they might play out ni a 3-way debate.

Buchanan would move the debate towards free trade, his pet issue. That would actualy make for a debate, since Bush & Gore agree that free trade is the way to go, while Buchanan is vehemently against it. The effect here would be to make Bush & Gore look like Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, agreeing entirely. If a 4th candidate were added, I'd guess that'd be Ralph Nader, who agrees with Buchanan on this issue. Details on all four views at

Buchanan would likely also move the debate into foreign policy, the focus of his book, "A Republic, Not an Empire." He's considerably more isolationist than either Gore or Bush, who would again come out looking a lot closer to each other than is either one to Buchanan. But Bush & Gore DO differ on a lot of specifics in this issue: Gore is more supportive of international agencies (like the UN and IMF) than is Bush, and hence Bush & Buchanan would be more in agreement on that (both say "Reform the IMF", "Reform the UN", etc). I think Buchanan would make Bush look bad here, because both Buchanan and Gore are really experts on this topic and Bush is simply not. Details on that at; Buchanan's book is excerpted at .

China is sure to be a hot topic at any Buchana debate as well, since it spans both the issues above. Here we might actually see three different viewpoints. Bush & Gore agree on giving China "Normal Trade Relations' and letting them into the WTO; Buchanan is dead-set against that. But with Taiwan, Gore would maintain equity in the US relations with them and China ("atrategic ambiguity") while Bush says he'd throw away the ambiguity and defend Taiwan no matter what. Buchanan supports an active containment of China, including tariffs and weapons to Taiwan. A debate on China would be lively indeed; I think all three candidates would end up ooking good because the issue would get cleatrly delineated. Details at .

On domestic issues, Buchanan has a less to say, but he always has a lot to say, so "less" is relative. On gay rights, Buchanan says "it's a disorder" which would make Bush's "No gays in the Boy Scouts" stance look moderate and Gore look far-left. On abortion, I think Buchanan's fervency (calling it "the greatest evil snice slavery") would make Bush look wishy-washy. On gun control, Buchanan agrees with Bush, but I think that would hurt Bush because Buchanan's agreement will make Bush's views seem extremist while Gore ends up seeming moderate.

In summary, I think Buchanan would add immensely to the entertainment value of the debates (which is important to get people to watch them) as well as to the depth of the issues in the debate (the guy knows his stuff, regardless of whether you agree with him).

madpol rated this answer:

That's my take too. He has the potential to get more people involved. Look for the Bush camp to be the stumbling block here. But It would be nice to see candidates talking about issues again.

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