Dole/Kemp Ticket Now in Play
Jude Wanniski
August 8, 1996


The political reports out of San Diego this morning noted that Dole now has added Kemp's name to his list of possible running mates. I gather they met today, not last night as the press accounts have it. I was beginning to think it would not happen, although I had predicted in my March 15 letter, after Steve Forbes dropped out of the race, that "The biggest winner of all is Jack Kemp... In finally bolting last week, endorsing Steve the day after Dole swept the seven primaries of Junior Super Tuesday, Jack has re-established himself as the active leader of the Reaganauts, a man once again willing to throw the long ball even if it doesn't result in a score. A week ago, Jack may have been wondering if he might be offered an ambassadorship to Palookaville in a Dole administration. Today, he is vice-presidential material, whether Dole likes that idea or not."

Dole certainly would rather have any of a dozen other people on the ticket with him, but I think it has become obvious to him what seemed obvious to me in March. Nothing else he can do will give him a serious shot at winning in November. My wild guess is that Elizabeth Dole is responsible for pushing Kemp's name into the process. That's because I think she not only likes Kemp and his politics more than her husband does. I think she also senses that only Kemp can possibly close the yawning gaps that have opened up between Dole and Clinton with women and minorities. [If you click on to our web site our daily comment to cyberspace today is a memo I wrote to Elizabeth Dole on this subject.] The fact that Kemp has been trudging around in support of Dole's tax plan, after Dole rejected the far better one Kemp and Steve Forbes were pushing, may have been enough proof to Liddy Dole that Kemp would be a good soldier inside the White House.

What are the chances it will happen? In the end, I think the forces lined up against Kemp may prove to be too much for Dole to handle. The argument being used against Jack is that he would be a loose cannon, publicly undermining Dole on the stump two weeks into the campaign. The fact that the short-list is down to three, with Kemp now on it, may be the reason the announcement is being pushed into next week. It takes a few days to do the vetting. It makes perfect sense for Dole, who has spent his career in the Security/Austerity wing of the GOP, to marry Kemp, the leader of the Growth wing. This is how Reagan unified the party in 1980, by wedding George Bush, the leader of the Security/Austerity wing back then. Bush kept the party unified in 1988 by vowing to remain faithful to the Growth wing ("read my lips"). He lost in 1992 because he was unfaithful. Three years ago, I sat alone with Dole in his Capitol office and told him I did not think Kemp would run for President in 1996. I said Jack had been so thoroughly skunked in '88 that it had shaken his self confidence. I told Jack then that he would make a perfect running mate in C96, that all he needed was a season on the bench as back-up QB. Who knows, maybe it will happen. It would shake things up.