Pat Buchanan is bullish on The Donald: Right-wing pundit predicts Trump will go the distance

Erstwhile rival has warm words for the surging GOP presidential candidate

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 28, 2015 4:26PM (EDT)

Pat Buchanan           (AP/Cliff Owen)
Pat Buchanan (AP/Cliff Owen)

Failed presidential candidate and World Net Daily columnist Pat Buchannan became the latest pundit to compare Donald Trump's campaign to that of Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in an essay predicting the bombastic real estate mogul's continued rise.

In what the conservative website described as "brilliant and prescient" writing, Buchanan compared Sanders supporters -- whom he described as "largely white, $50,000-a-year folks with college degrees" -- to supporters of George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee who won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in his campaign against Richard Nixon. Buchanan said Sanders himself was more like William Jennings Bryan, comparing Sanders' campaign against Wall Street's stranglehold on the economy to what he described as Bryan winning "the Democratic nomination in 1896 by denouncing the gold standard beloved of the hard money men of his day."

Buchanan likened Sanders' popularity among parts of the Democratic base to Trump's popularity among Tea Party Republicans, arguing that "the clearest message from the summer surge of Bernie Sanders and the remarkable rise of Donald Trump" is that "the American political class has failed the country, and should be fired":

Between his issues and Trump’s there is overlap. Both denounce the trade deals that deindustrialized America and shipped millions of jobs off to Mexico, Asia and China. But Trump has connected to an even more powerful current.

That is the issue of uncontrolled and illegal immigration, the sense America’s borders are undefended, that untold millions of lawbreakers are in our country, and more are coming. While most come to work, they are taking American jobs and consuming tax dollars, and too many come to rob, rape, murder and make a living selling drugs.

Moreover, the politicians who have talked about this for decades are a pack of phonies who have done little to secure the border.

But that's about as far as Buchanan's comparison went. Although Buchanan predicted that Trump will be among the top two Republicans on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, he reserved no judgement on Sanders' chances in the Democratic primary. Trump beats his nearest competitor by a 2-to-1 margin in the latest polls of New Hampshire. Buchanan argued that "for Trump not to be in the hunt as the New Hampshire primary opens, his campaign will have to implode, as Gary Hart’s did in 1987 and Bill Clinton’s almost did in 1992":

If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals. For if Trump is running at 18 or 20 percent nationally then, among Republicans, it is hard to see how two rivals beat him.


It is difficult to see how, in a two-man race against the favorite of the Republican establishment, he could win enough primaries, caucuses and delegates to capture 50 percent of the convention votes.

On last Sunday's edition of NBC's "Meet the Press," Buchanan noted the "great similarity" between Trump's campaign and his own 1992 challenge to Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush. Buchanan, who ran on an extreme anti-illegal immigration platform and blasted multiculturalism during his presidential bid, argued that Trump's campaign was a mix of his 1992 campaign's xenophobic fearmongering and Bernie Sanders' economic populism:

He's exposing that and he's hitting two of the really strong populist issues. One of them, there's overlap with Bernie Sanders, and that's the trade issue, the export of American jobs and factories, and what's happening to the American middle class.

But the other one Trump is hitting, which is one of the hottest issues in the whole West, as well as the United States, is the massive invasion, if you will, of what people feel is the conquest of the West by massive third-world immigrations, coming from refugees, and border jumpers, and all the rest of them. He's wired into both of these and they're enormously popular issues.

Interestingly, when Trump considered challenging Buchanan for the Reform Party's presidential nomination in 2000, the mogul denounced Buchanan as a "racist" and an anti-Semite.

For his part, Sanders also appeared on Sunday's edition of "Meet the Press," where he forcefully dismissed comparisons between his campaign and Trump's. Sanders interjected when host Todd attempted to point to arguments that the two candidates are "touching the same cord but with very different ways." Sanders insisted that he buys no such comparison:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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