Campaign is a conservative litmus test

Vernon Robinson of Winston-Salem, one of two Republicans in a runoff for the 5th Congressional District seat, is prompting an ideological debate among national conservatives.

Robinson would be the first black Republican to represent a former Confederate state in Congress since Reconstruction. His anti-immigration positions have won him support among conservative Republicans but derision among Democrats, particularly minorities.

He also lost the support of Jack Kemp, who endorsed Robinson but changed his mind after deciding that Robinson is among the “protectionist xenophobes” who are dividing the Republican Party.

That’s OK with Pat Buchanan, who weighed in on Robinson’s behalf in a column this week in The American Conservative.

Buchanan agreed with Kemp that “a struggle is under way for the soul of the Republican Party,” but he thinks Kemp inappropriately demonizes those who don’t share his pro-trade, pro-immigration views.

“What evidence is there that Vernon Robinson is not a man of good heart?” Buchanan wrote in the column.

By staff writers Amy Gardner, Rob Christensen and Dan Kane. Gardner can be reached at 829-8902 or