Brandishing a new weapon in his fierce political feud with President Bush, Patrick J. Buchanan on Tuesday urged his followers to withhold contributions to the Republican Party until its chairman is removed from office.
The target of his fury--Richard N. Bond--is a longtime aide to Bush who has given no pretense of neutrality in the GOP presidential race since being named party chairman earlier this year.
Buchanan--in blunt and bitter terms before Tuesday's voting was tabulated--accused the party chief of having slandered him and his supporters by suggesting last weekend that he was no more than a dressed-up version of David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who also is challenging Bush in the GOP primaries.
Until Bond resigns or is removed from office, Buchanan said, "I'm going to tell every Republican I know not to give another dime to the Republican National Committee."
The demand marked a further step in Buchanan's campaign of confrontation that has laid bare the fissures that divide the Republican family.
Tuesday night, unbowed by his electoral defeats, Buchanan trumpeted what he called his accomplishments: "We have torn away one-third of the Republican Party from the national Establishment for good," he said.
In his earlier comments about Bond, he said: "Our troops aren't marching under that character." Buchanan repeated that he intended to endorse Bush should the President--who is far ahead in the delegate count--win renomination, but said he could not support the President vigorously if Bond remained in his position.
Raising for the first time the specter of a conservative boycott of the party, Buchanan issued his ultimatum at a morning news conference in New Orleans before flying to Michigan to campaign and to await the results of Tuesday's eight Republican primaries. Michigan and Illinois hold primaries next Tuesday.
Buchanan's ire was sparked by Bond's suggestion in an ABC-TV interview Sunday that one thrust of the challenger's campaign was to "basically hijack David Duke's message on race and religious tolerance and put a jacket and tie on it and try to clean it up."
Upon his arrival in Michigan, Buchanan complained that Bond had cast aside the neutrality traditionally maintained by party chairmen to become instead "an attack dog of Mr. Bush's White House." He also said Bond "has smeared me and by extension slandered the people that support me."
Buchanan campaigned Tuesday afternoon at a machine-tool factory in nearby Wyandotte, Mich., in the hope that his "America first" message would find enough support in this economically depressed state to bring him his first victory in the primary campaign.
The demand for Bond's resignation appeared intended to parlay what support he has garnered so far into lasting changes within the GOP's structure.
In complaining about disrespect from party leaders, Buchanan seemed to be borrowing a page from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who in the Democratic presidential race four years ago repeatedly complained about his treatment at the hands of then-party chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr.
After Kirk resigned voluntarily, the selection of Ronald H. Brown as his replacement was widely seen as a consolation to Jackson, who had backed the Washington lawyer's candidacy for the party post.
All but acknowledging that Bush would ultimately win the nomination, Buchanan said his motive in seeking Bond's ouster was to put in place a leader who could better "bring this party together" after a prolonged primary fight.
"He ought to be out of there, and I'm calling for his resignation," Buchanan said in New Orleans.
In Washington, RNC spokesman B.J. Cooper rejected both Buchanan's demand and the suggestion that Bond ought not take sides in the Republican race.
"Pat has the right to run his campaign," Cooper said, "but in case there is any question, let there be no question of where we stand. The chairman is 100% behind George Bush and so is the committee."
In setting his sights on Bond, 41, Buchanan aimed at a man who has spent much of his political life at Bush's side. And his call for the party chief's resignation follows by less than a week his suggestions that Bush drop out of the presidential race and that the President repudiate his campaign general chairman, Robert A. Mosbacher, for meeting with a gay-rights delegation.
"I'd say we're in pretty good company," Cooper said.