WASHINGTON — White House Communications Director Patrick J. Buchanan, who had been considering running for the GOP presidential nomination, said Tuesday he has decided not to make the race to avoid splitting the conservative movement and hurting the prospects of New York Rep. Jack Kemp.
"Many conservatives have urged me to enter the race," Buchanan said in a statement issued by the White House. But he also acknowledged that others advised him that his campaign would amount to "the Pickett's charge of the American right" and "that its only certain and predictable consequence would be to 'mortally wound' the campaign of Congressman Jack Kemp, whose service to the cause has earned him an unimpeded shot at the nomination."
A hard-line conservative with a belligerent style, Buchanan was a longtime aide to former President Richard M. Nixon and then a newspaper columnist and broadcast commentator before joining the Reagan White House early in the President's second term. Interest in his presidential candidacy among conservatives was sparked by his defense of Reagan against criticism of his handling of the Iran arms scandal.
In characteristic fashion, Buchanan took the offensive against the President's critics. In a newspaper column, he excoriated Republicans who "headed for the tall grass" rather than support Reagan. At a rally for conservatives here earlier this month, he charged that critics of the Iran- contra s affair "are not after the truth--they're after Ronald Reagan."