Bob's Veep
Jude Wanniski
August 8, 1996

 

Memo To: Elizabeth Dole
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Bob's Veep

The NYTimes today adds Jack Kemp's name to the short list that your husband is considering as his running mate. My wild hunch is that you are responsible, as it is unlikely that anyone else around Bob could possibly get Jack's name into play at this late hour. Everyone assumes it is impossible for Jack to be considered because Bob simply does not like him, that he does not feel comfortable with him, and that he still has not forgiven Jack for endorsing Steve Forbes at the last minute. Yet it was only when Jack endorsed Steve that I advised my business clients that it made it possible for Jack to be considered as Bob Dole's running mate. If Jack had not, he would have abdicated his leadership of the Growth wing of the GOP, putting his personal career ahead of the ideas he has represented for 20 years. His endorsement of Steve was an act of courage that re-established Jack's leadership. If Bob is to have any chance of winning against Clinton and Perot, it has to be with Jack. There are only two wings of the GOP the Security (or austerity) wing that Bob has been part of throughout his career, and the Growth wing. Reagan united the wings in 1980 by putting Bush on the ticket. Bush united the wings in 1988 by pledging to remain faithful to the Growth elements in the party ("read my lips"). Bob cannot unite the party without a marriage with the leader of the Growth wing.

The only way to close a 20-point gap against Clinton is if Bob can persuade women and minorities that he and Gingrich will not team up to tear apart the social safety net. That is the source of his "gender gap," not his positions on feminist issues or abortion. No verbal promises of tax cuts or "read my lips" pledges will overcome the cynicism of the voters, who cannot realistically trust Bob and Gingrich in the White House and Congress with their history of putting the austerity cart before the growth horse. The voters have to see that President Dole is willing to swallow his discomfort with Jack and allow him to occupy an adjoining office in the West Wing. Only then would they sense that every time Bob has an uncontrollable urge to slash social spending to balance the budget (or to bomb North Korea), Jack will tackle him and talk him out of it. The other names on the short list would either encourage him to balance the budget or to bomb North Korea, or they would stand aside respectfully, too junior to tackle the boss.

I've known Bob since early 1969, when we spent a week together traveling around Florida looking at migrant camps. We've been on friendly terms on and off, but never in that period did I lose my respect for him. We just got out of political synch. He probably remembers me telling him back in 493 that I thought Jack should be his running mate in '96, that Jack needs a season on the bench as the backup quarterback. If I don't miss my guess, I think you feel the same way.