Buchanan chooses conservative black educator as running mate

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan looked past his adopted party's problems to his nomination and named Ezola Foster, a black Los Angeles teacher, his running mate.

''In this campaign, she will be our ambassador to America ... and she will contradict all the myths and nonsense about what this new party is about,'' Buchanan told reporters Friday at a dock-side news conference. ''It is open. We welcome everybody.''

Buchanan, who invited Foster to join the ticket two nights earlier, called her a ''lifelong Christian'' who had been both a Republican and a Democrat and co-chairman of his failed GOP presidential campaigns.

Foster, 62, twice lost bids to the California state assembly to Rep. Maxine Waters and was a supporter of California Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot measure that sought to deny most forms of state aid to illegal immigrants. That measure passed but was later invalidated by the courts.

Buchanan said her selection illustrates his attempt to unify the split Reform Party - and attract alienated Republicans and Democrats - as he declared himself the rightful nominee of the third party.

''We don't care what party you came from, where you've been and who you're running away from,'' Buchanan said. ''Come with us - you're welcome in our party.''

Foster appeared to offer a more qualified invitation.

''Well of course if you're too leftist you may not want to be with us,'' said Foster, a staunch conservative who has fought to deny state aid to illegal immigrants and has campaigned against safe sex education.

On the second night of the convention, the winner of a mail-in primary ballot was to be announced late Friday. The Buchanan camp was planning to make a motion to throw out the results and call for the delegates to nominate him from the floor. It would take a two-thirds vote and Buchanan controls some 70 percent of the delegates. The maneuver is aimed partly at avoiding legal challenges to the balloting process.

A block away, hundreds of longtime Reform Party members loyal to founder Ross Perot were holding their own parallel convention.

That Perot faction may nominate little-known physicist John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party, who is considering naming NASA scientist Bob Bowman as his running mate.

Led by Perot aide Russell Verney, the anti-Buchanan faction filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and may sue Buchanan backers to block him from getting $12.5 million in federal campaign funds.

Buchanan has dismissed the hubbub as carping from longtime activists whose time as party leaders has passed.

The conservative commentator has been getting between 1 percent and 4 percent in polls. Plans for bus tour and modest advertising campaign after Labor Day could be in jeopardy if he doesn't get the $12.5 million.

Looking ahead to the general election, Buchanan introduced Foster as the first black woman on a ''major party'' presidential ticket. He acknowledged that she has little foreign policy experience but said she would serve on the National Security Council in a Buchanan administration.

''I think this lady will be a tremendous benefit to our cause, to our campaign and our movement,'' Buchanan told a news conference.

Foster told a boisterous rally that the Reform Party is ''here to do what's right for all Americans. And we are here to support a man who recognizes America is a republic, not an empire.''

After the second defeat to Waters, Foster founded an organization called Black-Americans for Family Values that fought such things as references to homosexuality in public schools. She has also protested use of government money to promote safe sex anti-AIDS programs.

As for racial issues, Foster said Friday she believed ''the Confederate flag is to be honored as a part of our history'' and that she was only concerned with ''the race to the White House.''

The two left their announcement for a cruise aboard a yacht called FantaSea One.


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