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Reform Party Chair Vows to Fight Efforts to Remove Him

CAMPAIGN 2000

January 23, 2000|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Reform Party Chairman Jack Gargan vowed Saturday to fight efforts to remove him from party leadership, saying he is ready to compromise over the location of the party's convention.

The site of the national convention has caused internal warfare in recent weeks.

"As you know, they want my head on a platter but they're not going to get it," Gargan told about 200 delegates at the Florida party's state conference.

Former Republican Patrick J. Buchanan continued to campaign for the party's nomination despite the fray.

He told delegates during a half-hour speech that he would work to control the United States' borders, end illegal immigration and take a tough stand against China.

Buchanan said he would invite Chinese officials to the Oval Office and tell them, "You've got to stop persecuting Christians, you've got to stop pointing missiles at our friends, pointing missiles at us or you all have sold your last pair of chopsticks at any mall in the United States."

New York developer Donald Trump, who is considering a run for the White House, was invited to speak to the Florida delegates but declined.

Still, despite the campaigning, a storm continued to brew over the convention site.

Earlier this month, Gargan ruled that the August convention would be held in St. Paul, Minn., despite plans by the previous chairman to hold it in Long Beach.

Gargan is a supporter of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, while his predecessor, Russell Verney, is a top aide to party founder Ross Perot. The Perot faction tends to support Buchanan for president, while the Ventura faction prefers Trump.

Gargan said he had asked the Buchanan faction for a meeting to discuss a neutral site but they "refused to come to the table."

Buchanan, after speaking to the Florida delegates, said he wasn't approached by Gargan and added he came up with the idea for a neutral site several weeks ago.

The issue could be settled next month at a Feb. 12 meeting in Nashville of the 150-member national committee. Michael Farris, chairman of the party's presidential nomination committee, plans to call for Gargan's removal at that meeting.

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