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Will the White House make the first move? Not likely. "If we reached out now," says Bush campaign manager Fred Malek, who worked with Buchanan in the Nixon White House, "he'd slap our hand and go on national TV and make fun of us. We're just going to leave him alone." But unless Bush engages him, Buchanan may stubbornly balk at laying down his arms. Such a standoff might open the door to some back-door negotiations by an old friend of both men's: Richard Nixon. Buchanan, who says he plans no third-party run for the White House, is certain to support Bush against the Democrats in November. So what will he trade for his primary poker chips? Party-rules changes? A prime-time convention speech? Buchanan scoffs at such speculation. "Is that what they believe I care about, whether I get 12 minutes at the convention?" he asks. "I mean, what the hell do they think politics is all about?" Explains Buchanan: "What is the primary about if not for the heart, the soul, the direction of the party?"
That is the metaphysical quest that guides this right-wing crusader. Though he claims he has not yet thought about seeking the presidency in 1996, this year's campaign has thrust him into the top tier of contenders, along with Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp and Texas Senator Phil Gramm. It has also exposed the historic rift between Republican moderates and conservatives, long bound together by the fight against communism. With the cold war over, the G.O.P. is awakening to the fact that the new world order may threaten the quarter- century Republican domination of the White House.