Page 1 -- The Nashville Tennessean -- July 28, 2001.
Reform Delegates Seek Agenda For PartyFactions Continue Fight During Convention Here
By Rob Johnson
Martin Lindstedt, a Missouri trucker and militia member who has campaigned on a "nationalist, pro-White America First! political platform," threw open his Nashville hotel door when he heard scratching noises in the middle of the night.
Wearing nothing but underwear, he focussed on the African-American woman who had mistaken his room number for hers. As she apologised for the late-night mix-up, Lindstedt realized he was face-to-face with Pat Buchanan's Reform Party running mate in the 2000 presidential election: "Hey, Your're Ezola Foster."
Both are in town for the national convention of the Reform Party, the political movement that sprouted up around the presidential candidacy of Ross Perot, delighted in Jesse Ventura's Minnesota gubernatorial victory and has ignited one factional fight after another as it has become Buchanan's platform for his White House aspirations. Perot and Ventura have long since left the party; Buchanan is now its torchbearer.
Yesterday, some members of the California and Missouri delegations found themselves excluded from the meeting, a sure sign, they said, that the Buchanan loyalists are continuing to hijack the party from its belief in cleaning up government ethics and campaign finance to a party with polarizing stands on social issues such as immigration and abortion.
Today, for example, the party is scheduled to vote on whether to add an anti-abortion plank to its platform. All around the convention hall were pamphlets and posters warning of the threat of immigrants pouring into the country.
Page 2: Reform: National convention here proves a study in contrasts
While the delegates hammered out proposed changes in the party's constitution yesterday, the liveliest conversations took place in the hallways outside the Nashville Convention Center ballroom.
Foster, gliding through the corridor in her sleek suit and straw hat, encountered Lindstedt, now in jeans and well-worn sneakers. They reminisced about their embarrassed introduction the night before, laughed and chatted briefly.
She was talking to the Missouri man and party member whom Buchanan had once denounced as "crude, obscene, vile and bigoted in the extreme."
Into a reporter's hand, Lindstedt pressed a flyer about how the two main political parties represent ''the special interests of minorities, foreign governments like China and Israel, the UN, trial lawyers, homosexuals, gun control, the New World Order, etc.,'' then excused himself.
As he walked away, Foster said she hadn't realized he was the man her running mate described.
Foster said she was excited that a party which originally avoided polarizing social stands was now embracing them.
"That's probably why the party never moved. Because they didn't want to take a stand," she said. "I don't see how you can separate social issues from fiscal issues. I hear people say, 'I'm a fiscal conservative but liberal on social issues.'
"How can you be? You have to pay for these social issues. And most of this issues are unconstitutional. So, this is the thing that distinguishes us," she said.
"We, hopefully, tomorrow will be the only party that is truly pro-life. We will be the only party that's truly for the Constitution. We're the only party that truly believes in American sovereignty. Both Democrats and Republican administration want an open-border policy. A country without borders is no country at all."
Nearby, a candidate for public advocate in New York City worried about the direction of the party.
"We've got to recruit candidates,'' said Mike Zumbluskas. "If you don't have leaders, well, the grass roots can only grow so big. This country is going down the wrong road,'' he said. He talked about an increasingly two-class society, one that churns out doctors and lawyers but neglects to teach others a trade, forcing blue-collar jobs offshore.
"However, taking a controversial stand on abortion is not going to help his Reform Party candidacy in New York.
"Let's face it. It's going to cost me votes. It doesn't have to be."
Foster thinks otherwise.
"The Reform Party is representing the American people, and I think what we are trying to do with this party is to represent the silent majority."
What of militia members with extreme views, such as Lindstedt?
"I've met a lot of militiamen in Montana," she said. "That's the beauty of this party. We have people that believe so strongly in this nation. There are a few who would go to any extreme to promote their belief, but the vast majority of us believe in going the legal route."
Notes & Commentary .