Give a little credit to Pierre S. du Pont IV. He carries a name that suggests anything but an acquaintance with the everyday life of the common man. He is further handicapped by a political base that is smaller than almost any other. Still, the former Delaware governor and congressman, who understandably prefers to be called Pete, has decided to run for president.
It is easy to dismiss his candidacy as frivolous, but it is wrong to do so. Mr. du Pont claims a record of accomplishments as governor that are of some relevance to national policy. He says he lowered taxes and stimulated economic development in a state that is in fact in the midst of an economic boom. He remained popular and respected in a state small enough for voters to know their politicians firsthand. He has been on the road working for Republican candidates across the nation, helping them computerize their voter registration operations and buy laser printers and campaign software. He has a gift for articulating his ideas.
An additional distinction is that he is the first candidate to inform the Federal Election Commission that he has formed a presidential campaign committee. That made him subject to the limitations and disclosure requirements of federal campaign finance law. Others are using multicandidate PACs (George Bush's Fund for America's Future), exploratory committees (Howard Baker) and even foundations that are seeking tax-exempt status (Pat Robertson's Freedom Council). Mr. du Pont has another approach.
"The way to do something," he said in announcing before 1,000 supporters at Wilmington's Grand Opera House, "is to do it. If you're interested, don't bother with exploratory committees and things like that." Other candidates may get some advantage by raising more money and dodging some disclosure. Mr. du Pont deserves some credit for doing it right