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Top Buchanan Aide Quits

Pat Buchanan's communications director resigned Friday, saying his boss is poised to bolt the Republican Party for a third-party presidential bid that could keep the White House in Democratic hands.

"As an American, I'm disgusted at the prospect of electing Al Gore president of the United States," Bob Adams said. "As a Republican, I will do whatever it takes to elect our nominee to the White House."

Buchanan, a three-time presidential candidate lagging in GOP polls, has accused party leaders of rigging the nominating process to aid Texas Gov. George W. Bush and ignoring social issues such as abortion. Earlier in the week, he told CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell he is seriously considering seeking the Reform Party nomination.

"The two national parties in Washington, D.C., have become virtual Xerox copies of one another," Buchanan complained.

"They have sort of a phony battle that goes on like professional wrestling and moves on to the next town. I think a lot of Americans are fed up with politics as usual and would like a real choice as we go into the new millennium," he added.

The lifelong conservative Republican said a major factor will be whether his campaign can transfer its federal matching funds if he switches parties.

"I can't give any odds but I can tell you we're looking hard at it," he said in an interview on CBS This Morning. He has said he will make a decision by October.

Adams, 30, said he did not know for sure whether Buchanan would leave the party. "But I've not seen a single thing in the last several days or several weeks that would suggest otherwise," he said.

Asked if Buchanan or his sister and top adviser, Bay Buchanan, had told him that the party switch was a certainty, Adams said, "That is a question best posed to Mr. Buchanan."

Republicans worry that Buchanan's combative campaign style and deeply held conservative views could siphon votes from the eventual GOP nominee. Polls suggest that up to twice as many Bush voters as Gore supporters would migrate to Buchanan.

The departure of Adams is the first sign of division within the Buchanan camp, though other supporters have privately expressed reservations about his intentions.

Adams submitted his resignation at the campaign's McLean, Va., offices Friday.

"In March 1992, I joined the Buchanan Brigades as a volunteer in Maryland. Mr. Buchanan then, as now, is an honorable man of unquestionable integrity," Adams said. "The Buchanan family will remain in my prayers."

Both Buchanans were unavailable. Adams was the only full-time aide in the press department.

Elizabeth Dole's communications director resigned this week to explore private sector offers, an action that raised questions about the viability of her GOP presidential campaign.