PRESIDENTIAL HORSERACE: Ladbroke’s of London, the betting parlor, reports that as a result of the Louisiana caucus results on Tuesday -- with Pat Buchanan upsetting Sen. Phil Gramm -- the odds on the presidential race changed as follows: President Clinton, the going-away favorite for re-election, lengthened his lead to 8-to-15 from 4-to-7. Bob Dole went to 9-4 from 6-4; Steve Forbes to 7-2 from 8-1; Lamar Alexander remains at 20-1; Gramm to 33-1 from 14-1; Pat Buchanan to 50-1 from 100-1. At a similar point in the 1980 race, prior to the Iowa caucuses, Ronald Reagan topped the big GOP field at 3-1, with President Carter the favorite for re-election. After Reagan lost in Iowa to George Bush, the odds against him lengthened to 7-1.
IOWA CAUCUSES: The entire field has gone into a stop-Forbes mode, hoping to bury him in Iowa with a record turnout from right-to-life religious conservatives. We hear that there is an organized network making 40,000 phone calls a day telling folks that Steve is pro-abortion and favors gays in the military, and has a Robert Mapplethorpe picture, a seascape, on the Forbes yacht -- Mapplethorpe being anathema to the Christian right because of his photo of a crucifix in a jar of urine. Dole, who has been on all sides of the issue recently, has been benefiting by suddenly taking a hardline anti-abortion position. As of today, guessing is that Dole should win with about 30%. Still, the Mason-Dixon Iowa poll yesterday had Dole over Forbes by only 24% to 22%. The press corps may be making an issue out of the phoney underground calls, which could cause a backfire over the weekend. FYI, I am a right-to-life Roman Catholic who totally supports Steve’s political position on abortion -- which is that it makes no sense to support constitutional amendments to ban abortion when there is no public support for the idea and never will be! The American people will support incremental anti-abortion legislation, but will never agree to put a religious commandment into the Constitution. The national right-to-life lobby, alas, does not want the abortion issue solved as Steve suggests, because they will be out of business as a lobby. It is the equivalent of the realtors’ lobby in Washington being fanatically opposed to the flat tax, even while a poll of 800 realtors across the country shows that roughly 60% favor a pure flat tax even if it excludes a mortgage interest deduction.
KEMP: We understand that Steve Forbes has formally offered Jack Kemp the post of National Campaign Chairman and chief spokesman in his campaign. Kemp, who had said he would make an endorsement prior to the Iowa caucuses, then said he would not do so until after the balloting on Monday, is pondering the offer. Jack is clearly disgusted with the performance of Bob Dole and the other GOP contenders for their class warfare attacks on Steve. He issued a statement yesterday at Empower America urging them to halt the attacks. Kemp last week told CNN that a Dole television spot was based on erroneous analysis and should be withdrawn, but the spot continues to run. My guess is that Jack’s attempt to remain friendly to all sides has been ebbing as he watches Steve Forbes, who would not be running if Jack were in the race, attacked on all sides while remaining stoutly true to principles of public policy they share. Were Kemp to take up the offer, it would change entirely the dynamics of the presidential race. Forbes will be the guest tomorrow evening on "Evans&Novak’s" CNN show, which airs again Sunday morning at 10 a.m. EST. This matter almost certainly will come up.