Born-again Republican Merrill Cook is greatly encouraged for his own election prospects by Pat Buchanan's presidential primary victory in New Hampshire.
Also pleased with Buchanan's upset triumph were some independents of the Ross Perot stripe. But establishment Republicans in Utah knew of no organized support for Buchanan within their party.The Deseret News was unable to find any Buchanan headquarters here. The closest to organized support for the conservative Republican may be members of the new Reform Party, which is being set up nationally and in Utah by backers of Ross Perot.
Cook said the issues Buchanan voiced are attractive to the "United We Stand, Ross Perot independent types" and to people focusing on man-in-the-street issues.
Buchanan showed "that those issues have a real vibrancy within the Republican Party. This is a kind of common man, the man-in-the-street vs. the Wall Street elitist" contest, he said.
Cooke said Buchanan's success represents a kind of insurgency against the bankers and other establishment types who have run the Republican Party until now.
Buchanan is "someone who tries to stand up for the working people, someone who knows that we have to overhaul the tax system."
Cook said he and Buchanan share some ideas, such as economic, trade and common man issues. That might be an indication that Cook could make some of the same issues work for him within Utah's Republican Party, he said.
"When he beat Bob Dole, who's the quintessential establishment kind of figure in the Republican Party, it shows that I could have an influence, and I could win some primaries and some contests within the Republican Party," he said.
Buchanan was able to mobilize conservative Republicans and independents, he added. "I think if I were to run now and to be successful, I would have to do the same kind of things Buchanan did, kind of an insurgency."
One Republican Party worker who did not wish to be identified said many officials in Utah support Sen. Bob Dole for the party's nomination.
"Somebody here is for (Sen. Dick) Lugar, somebody for (Steve) Forbes and someone for (Lamar) Alexander. Those are the only ones I know of," besides Dole, she said.
Staff members for Gov. Mike Leavitt were unaware of any formal support for the conservative commentator within Utah's Republican Party.
However, some members of a new party forming both nationally and in Utah - the Reform Party - like the way Buchanan sounds.
"I think the one thing that's brought his message along is speaking to the fears of a lot of Americans on their jobs and the economy," said Claire Geddes, field representative of Citizens to Establish the Reform Party.
Geddes, who also volunteers for the Perot group United We Stand America, stressed that the budding party does not yet have a presidential candidate. But it does have the signatures it needs to field candidates in Utah, she said.
"We're just getting ready to take in our bylaws and constitution and we'll be qualified in Utah."
Geddes said Buchanan strikes a chord with many Americans because they are worried about the downsizing of their companies.
Buchanan's primary win should be a wakeup call for members of Congress "that there are a lot of people out there who are concerned about their jobs," she said. They are concerned about issues that are not being addressed by Congress.
"That's the one thing our organization has stressed. We're concerned about the trade agree- ment," specifically the movement of business to Mexico resulting from the NAFTA trade agreement. They are also concerned about immigration from Mexico, another of Buchanan's themes.
"He's articulating I think the concerns of a lot of Americans," said Geddes, reached in Phoenix, where she is vacationing.