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FALLS CHURCH, Va. _ The ballroom rocked with raucous renditions of ``Go Pat Go.'' Hundreds of leather-lunged loyalists, grooving on every barb, sprung from their seats, and bellowed their allegiance. And the object of their affection grinned like a mischievous schoolboy.
Pat Buchanan, the pugnacious conservative populist, was back in the game.
Faced with certain defeat as a Republican presidential hopeful, and increasingly marginalized within Republican ranks, Buchanan severed his lifelong fealty to the GOP Monday, and delivered the long-anticipated news that he would seek the Reform Party's presidential nomination _ and the big pot of money that goes with it.
``The Republican Party has been good to me, and I have tried to be loyal to it,'' said Buchanan, 60, whose party service dates to Richard Nixon in the mid-1960s.
But today, the Republican establishment is a centrist, free-trade, big-money bastion, just like the Democratic establishment, he declared. Taken together, the two parties are ``a sham and a delusion ... two wings on the same bird of prey,'' Buchanan said.
It was the kind of third-party message that has been heard before, notably …