Gramm On The Brink

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BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: "Phil Gramm's candidacy is on life support," reports Jeffrey Birnbaum of the big hit that Gramm's presidential hopes took on Tuesday, when he won only 8 of 21 delegates in the Louisiana state caucuses. The clear loss to Pat Buchanan stung, coming just six days before the crucial Iowa caucuses. Only a couple weeks before, Gramm had confidently predicted he would take all 21 delegates. Trying to downplay expectations just before the vote, Gramm said that he would be satisfied with taking only 11 delegates: "I intend to get up Wednesday morning, come to Iowa and campaign hard every day if I don't get one delegate." Wednesday, Gramm tried damage control before supporters in Iowa by ignoring his troubles: "I want to say to you that we have five days to go. We have, in the old cliche, a long way to go and a short time to get there." For Pat Buchanan, the Bayou victory was especially sweet, since it comes on the heels of his win in the Alaska straw poll, lending a new patina of credibility to his candidacy. "This win will help Buchanan expand his already solid base among religious conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire," notes Birnbaum.