Executive Summary: To the casual political observer, George Bush still seems the man to beat for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination, Senator Dole solidly second, Rep. Jack Kemp faltering. But early presidential polls always mislead on first-time national candidates (McGovern in '72, Carter in '76, Bush in '80, Hart in '84). Kemp has almost won the "primary within the GOP primary," representing the populist wing. Laxalt still a threat, with Bush the frontrunner, for the establishment. Kemp is far and away the idea candidate, the only Republican with a brains trust. These factors won't be weighed and rewarded until New Hampshire, the key to the nomination for Kemp. The primary schedule favors the "conservative," although the Iowa caucuses preceding New Hampshire produce the organization's choice. Bush and Dole were both spurned in New Hampshire in '80. A Kemp win there and he'd clean up on Super Tuesday's Southern primaries. The Georgia GOP convention gives him 37% to Bush's 21% and Dole's 18%. A rookie in a national campaign is Kemp's greatest weakness. Finance remains a worrisome threat; he'd pull out rather than run up debt. The Democrats would rather run against any other Republican; Kemp threatens the foundation of the New Deal coalition in a way Reagan never did.
A Kemp Scenario
With eight months to the Iowa caucuses (Feb.8), the race for the Republican presidential nomination is considerably less cloudy to the casual observer than the contest among the Democrats, where there is no clear favorite in the early handicapping. To the casual observer Vice President George Bush is still the "man to beat" for the GOP nomination, although Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole is doing well in the public opinion polls. Rep. Jack F. Kemp, our personal friend and personal choice, is said to be floundering in third place, barely into double-digits in the polls and running in the red financially. Former Senator Paul Laxalt has said he will run if he can build a war chest by October 1. Longshots still in the running Pat Robertson, Pete Du Pont, Alexander Haig seem to be spinning their wheels, but are still determinedly raising money. Donald Rumsfeld dropped from the running, finding it too difficult to raise money and refusing to run up a campaign debt. Howard Baker, some think, will be able to reverse field and jump from White House chief-of-staff back into the thick of the presidential race. So much for the casual observer.
The Public Opinion Polls
In presidential politics, most Americans spend almost no time at all contemplating the distant horserace. They are like those baseball or football fans who have little time to devote to regular season games, but rather wait for the playoffs to become serious spectators. At this stage of the 1988 presidential season, it wouldn't be surprising to find that three-quarters or more of the potential national electorate have not even peeked at what's going on. When asked by a national pollster whom they favor at the moment for a distant presidential nomination, these voters will draw almost entirely upon their previous focal points the past national campaigns --in stating a preference. This is why it was never conceivable that candidates other than Bush or Dole -- the only two contenders with national campaign identities would ever score higher than the teens in these polls until they won in the early contests.
In a sense, the national electorate economizes on time spent studying presidential politics by trusting in the voters of New Hampshire to do the first serious screening of the candidates. Since the New Hampshire preferential primary began in 1952, no candidate has won the presidency without first winning in New Hampshire [Eisenhower in '52 and '56, Kennedy in '60, LBJ in '64, Nixon in '68 and '72, Carter in '76, and Reagan in '80 and '84]. Voters in other states make up their own minds, of course, but they take seriously the close-up fine-mesh screening that the voters of New Hampshire have developed as a cottage industry. To a lesser degree, the Iowa precinct caucuses that precede New Hampshire by two weeks are also important. But because they are much less representative of the grass roots, the screen is a coarser mesh with a party organization bias that generally produces the organizational favorite. (Iowa, with 3 million people, turns out roughly 125,000 people for the GOP caucuses; New Hampshire, with 920,000 people, should turn out almost as many for the Republican primary).
In 1972, the Harris Poll, as reported in The New York Times of January 21, had Senator Edmund Muskie leading in the survey of national Democrats with 30%, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and John Lindsay in the next three spots, and George McGovern at 7%. In the Iowa caucuses of January 25, Muskie came in at 35.5% with McGovern second at 22.6%. In the March 8 New Hampshire polling, Muskie tallied 46.4% and McGovern 37.1%. McGovern, of course, went on to win the Democratic nomination and lose in a landslide to Richard Nixon.
In 1976, in a field for the Democratic nomination that included Birch Bayh, Hubert Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen, Fred Harris, Scoop Jackson, Milton Shapp, Terry Sanford and Sargent Shriver, Jimmy Carter was barely showing up on the national scope when he won the Iowa caucuses January 19 as a steppingstone to a 30% winning percentage in New Hampshire.
In 1980, George Bush hovered at 6% in the national polls on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. In Iowa itself, the Des Moines Register had him at 17% to Reagan's 26% and Howard Baker's 18% with 10 days to go. In the caucuses, Bush scored with 36.5% to Reagan's 29.4% and Baker's 15.7%. The big loser was Bob Dole, the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 1976, who could manage only 1.5%. Bush immediately surged to a 15-point lead over Reagan in the New Hampshire opinion polls and came in second in Time magazine's national poll of February 5, 34% to Reagan's 41%. But when the New Hampshire voters applied their fine mesh February 26, Reagan scored 50%, Bush 23, Baker 13, with Dole, an asterisk, dropping out. George Bush had plummeted from 15 points ahead to 27 behind in three weeks.
In 1984, Gary Hart was under 5% in the national polls going into the February 21 Iowa caucuses. There, he was a surprising second to Walter Mondale, 48.9% to 17%. John Glenn, Jesse Jackson and George McGovern divided the remainder for the Democratic nomination. Hart immediately jumped to 24% to Mondale's 38% in a New Hampshire opinion poll. But the national polls did not reflect his Iowa surge. On February 28, the day of the New Hampshire primary, The New York Times/CBS national poll had Mondale at 57% and Hart at 7%. The New Hampshire voters trooped to the polls and gave Hart a stunning 41%-to-29% win over Mondale. The next morning, already thinking about 1988, Jack Kemp privately commented, "It goes to show how much the vice presidency is worth."
A Primary Within A Primary
The most important factions in the two political parties are the movement conservatives in the GOP and the organization liberals in the Democratic Party. The movement conservatives comprise the populist wing of the GOP as opposed to the elitist wing, the so-called Eastern Establishment. In 1980, Reagan represented the former and Bush the latter. In the Democratic Party, the organizational liberals comprise the elitist wing, a branch of the Eastern Establishment. The Democrats' populist wing is basically the more conservative terrain of the party -- the Southern and Western states minus California. Mondale represented the former in 1980, Hart the latter.
In advance of the actual primaries, activists in these various wings of the two parties engage in unofficial contests to select their favorite sons. These are the "primaries within the primaries." On the Democratic side, Hart was the clear favorite of the populist wing before he folded. Now, there is a mad scramble in both wings, with Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware the early favorite of the liberals, as we can tell from his successful fundraising among the Hollywood folk. Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts seems the early hopeful of the populists, attracting dropouts from the Hart campaign.
On the Republican side, Bush is the leading candidate of the organization. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole isn't quite trusted by the organization, because he is so unpredictable. But if Bush were to falter as he has somewhat -- Dole would be the major beneficiary. Pierre Du Pont IV, a supply-side conservative and social liberal, would also gain from organization Republicans as Bush weakens. General Haig and Howard Baker have been the only other contenders in this wing of the GOP.
The movement conservative "primary within a primary" has been a minuet around Jack Kemp, and the story of 1987 is that he almost has it won. In a sense, Kemp has been the preferred nominee of this party faction from the beginning. But the economic, social and national security elements in this loose alliance are always wary of annointing their man too soon -- wary of being taken for granted by a nominee eager to "move leftward" to begin picking up support for the general election. Had Kemp signed a blood oath a year ago to faithfully represent the interests of evangelical Christians above all other interests, he could have blocked the entry of the Rev. Pat Robertson. But that would have doomed his campaign in other respects.
As it is, Kemp's most important barrier was hurdled in February when White House Communications Director Pat Buchanan, at the last minute, turned away from a presidential run -- openly acknowledging that he did so after determining Kemp deserved a clear shot. An editorial in the weekly Human Events, the bible of movement conservatives, had made that point in an open plea to Buchanan to pass, which he did. At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, February 20, a straw poll of the several hundred delegates from the 50 states that represent the American Conservative Union and the Young Americans for Freedom, turned up the following results: Kemp 68%, Buchanan 9%, Dole 5%, Bush 4%, Robertson 4%, DuPont 3%, Others 7%.
The numbers reflect the intensity of Kemp support among the conservative intellectual cadres. This doesn't always translate into a GOP nomination. Reagan had the overwhelming support of these cadres in 1976, but lost the nomination to President Ford. But they are a powerful force, and Kemp is not far from having their open allegiance. One of the knocks against Kemp is that he doesn't already have this open allegiance, but the mating dance goes at its own pace the social conservatives especially worried about being taken for granted after the wedding. They are especially worried about Kemp, who they know is driven more by the economic imperative and an eagerness to convert minorities and blue-collars to the cause than he is by the social issues.
As a result, Pat Robertson's candidacy could have been more of a problem for Kemp, but the PTL scandal has taken the wind out of the sails of the TV evangelists, his included. Senator Laxalt, who comes out of the populist wing of the party, is a potential threat. But I suspect he only revived the possibility of his candidacy to give himself an edge in the libel suit he brought against the Sacramento Bee, which was scheduled to go to trial this summer. A jury would look on him differently as a live presidential candidate who has nothing to hide from his Nevada casino days -- than as a politician who has formally decided not to run. In settling the suit out of court last week, the Bee may have felt this leverage. My suspicion of Laxalt's strategy was helped by the observation that he did not seem to be putting together the effort it would take to mount a serious campaign. Now that the suit is out of the way, it will be easier for Laxalt himself to gauge his real interest in a serious run. Long friendly to Kemp, Laxalt in January was the keynote speaker at a major Los Angeles fundraiser for Kemp. Were Laxalt to drop out, his team would jump to Kemp almost to a man.
Senator Dole, who sees himself as being positioned between the organization Republicans (Bush) and the movement conservatives (Kemp) has been following a two-front strategy. He hammers at Bush, taking advantage of the Vice President's inability to maneuver. And he has been openly courting the conservative cadres by jumping on their ideological bandwagons opposing aid to Marxist Mozambique, supporting funds for the Strategic Defense Initiative, defending the Manion nomination to a Federal judgeship, keeping an impeccable record on the social issues. But just as the Establishment is wary of Dole's unpredictability, so too are the movement conservatives. They perfectly realize he operates far more out of political instinct than conviction. This makes him interesting only as a potential fallback candidate by both wings of the GOP.
Ideas In The Campaign
Do ideas count in a campaign? Absolutely. They can provide victory or defeat depending upon whether or not the electorate agrees with the ideas presented. Democracy assumes the voters collectively know where they want their leaders to lead, and it is up to the candidates to present an agenda that enables voters to have as wide a selection of options as possible.
In 1976, though, Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination because he offered no ideas. The other contenders having read the same misleading opinion polls -- concluded that the voters were eager to break up oil companies and other concentrations of obscene profits, and redistribute wealth. Carter alone remained "fuzzy" on the issues, complaining that "the tax system is a disgrace to the human race," but without details on what he would do, and that perhaps he might not break up the oil companies. On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, The New York Times reported on two analysts who found a surge of support for Carter: "They both find a certain indefiniteness part of Carter's political charm."
The opposite happened in 1980 when George Bush defeated Ronald Reagan in the Iowa caucuses on pure organizational strength, with Reagan not even presenting his agenda. But after Iowa, in the two weeks prior to the New Hampshire primary, Reagan offered his economic program of Kennedyesque supply-side tax cuts to get the country moving again while Bush offered "Big Mo" (momentum and victory). The Times index of February 10, 1980 summarized one political analyst, who said Bush's "biggest problem is his elusive, Everyman quality; notes difficulty in placing him on political spectrum or identifying him with any area of the country, in light of his frequent moves." The Times/CBS New Poll of February 20, 1980 "finds many who support George Bush are uncertain of what he stands for ideologically."
This is precisely why Bush has such a hard time getting people to vote for him and such an easy time getting successful vote-getters to appoint him. He has no agenda of his own and will perform with perfect predictability to those who know where they want to go. Bush would be a successful President to the degree the elite Establishment had more to offer than it did in 1980, but he clearly needs wise men to tell him what to do.
Senator Dole has a much easier time getting people to vote for him, including his Senate colleagues, because of his superior political instincts. In a world filled with bad ideas, a democracy needs to develop Bob Doles, who will not sit still for wise men telling him what to do, who does not have a vision of the future, but who is adept at dealing with the future as it arrives, picking and choosing from left and right. In choosing a President, though, the electorate needs more than tactical skills, which is why, in 1980, Bush and his wise men did so much better than Dole and his instincts.
In his market commentary of May 21, Morgan Stanley's Byron R. Wien reported on Dole's appearance before the Financial Analyst Federation conference in Philadelphia the previous week:
The luncheon speaker was Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, the choice of many attending the meeting as the Republican candidate for President in 1988. He arrived very late and made a general, unsophisticated, podium-thumping speech that started out with the sardonic comment that, in spite of the disarray on both sides of the political aisle, the Oval Office would not be left vacant next year.
The Senator noted optimistically that some cuts in the budget were already being made in the President's budget, especially in the defense area. He outlined his concept of a variable import fee on oil to increase Federal revenues; however, he doubts Congress has the "institutional will" to cut the budget much. Someone asked whether he thought the dollar was about at its bottom and what, if anything, should be done. He said that he did not know much about the subject; when there was an audible groan from the audience, he added sarcastically that he doesn't think Secretary of the Treasury Baker knows a lot more than he does. We were all disappointed, as it seemed reasonable to expect the Senator to have an informed opinion on the dollar. It was not as if we were asking him for his foreign policy stance on Micronesia. His vagueness caused the conference atmosphere to darken further.
Jim Von Germeten of The Boston Company asked Dole what economists he looked to for guidance. Dole pondered awhile before allowing that "Alan Greenspan has some good ideas."
Kemp, of course, is far and away the presidential candidate of ideas. He is the only Republican candidate with what Franklin Roosevelt called a "brains trust," a kitchen cabinet of intellectuals who have gravitated to Kemp over the years. The first requirement of a political figure who wishes to have such a coterie is that he or she have a lengthy attention span. Idea people do not insist their ideas be followed, only that they be heard. I've known Bush, Dole, Laxalt and Howard Baker far longer than I've known Kemp. Clearly the reason they have not attracted idea people is that they are bottom-line political leaders, whose eyes glaze over at complex supporting detail. Quite the opposite, Kemp's way is to question his advisers on conceptual detail until he knows enough to absorb or discard the idea. He insists on getting to the bottom line himself. Unlike Dole or the other GOP contenders, Kemp can not only discuss the dollar, exchange-rates, interest rates, trade and capital flows, but also how they interconnect and hold his own in debates with any central banker.
As one result, Kemp has attracted to his person and candidacy a virtual university of thinkers, intellectuals and philosophers in almost every sphere of public policy. The three leading intellects of the Reagan Administration, now all departed, are Kemp advisers: Former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Richard Darman. Irving Kristol, one of the leading intellectuals of the era, says Kemp is easily the smartest member of Congress he's ever known. In fact, says House Minority Whip Trent Lott, Kemp has been the incubator for every worthwhile idea that has come out of the Reagan Administration.
But given the political theorem that no idea can beat a bad idea, but a good idea can beat a bad one, how will the voters assess Kemp's agenda for the post-Reagan era? It is, after all, extremely risky asking for specific mandates in a broad range of public affairs. The only other Republican around with Ideas is Pete Du Pont, with specific programs to reform welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies. His proposals are getting him more attention, because they are bold and controversial. But they are not likely to generate enthusiasm for his campaign because the people do not equate programs with ideas. The unspoken, unifying idea behind the Du Pont proposals is government economy.
In other words, if what the voters see in Kemp is a promise of a gold standard, enterprise zones, pro-life legislation and Star Wars deployment, he will have very heavy going. But his over-arching idea is a much larger one: the extension of economic growth to those parts of the United States that have been left behind -- and to the rest of the world, within a context of spreading democratic capitalism. And national security and social policies that stress the preservation of life, from the microcosm to the macrocosm. His programmatic ideas will make sense to the voters only within this larger framework. If they are satisfied with the quality and texture of Kemp's vision, they will trust him to make the programmatic adjustments on the run.
At the Polyconomics winter conference in Boca Raton last February, during a stroll I had with New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, he told me he'd chatted a week earlier with New Jersey's Republican Governor Tom Kean. He said he asked Kean who the Republican nominee would be in '88. The answer was Kemp, said Cuomo, Kean reasoning that the primary schedule favored the candidate of the conservatives.
As with Reagan in 1980, the key for Kemp is the New Hampshire primary on February 16. Because the Iowa caucuses a week earlier heavily favor the party organization's candidate, Vice President Bush almost certainly will emerge the winner. Senator Dole, from neighboring Kansas, is said to be the likely runner-up, with Kemp third. But the Iowa-Kansas farm connection did not do Dole any good in 1980, when he went from more than 10 percent in the advance straw polls to a mere 1.5 percent at the actual caucuses. Kemp's clearest dominance in the primary season is among GOP college students, attracted to his global vision and idealistic passion for growth and opportunity. Students generally do not attend the time-consuming caucuses in local living rooms of party regulars. Certainly they did not in the 1980 caucuses, when there was no candidate of Kemp's youthful appeal. Such a turnout in 1988 could put Kemp ahead of Dole in Iowa. Veteran political reporters have also noticed Kemp scoring with his frequent visits to evangelical audiences.
Even if it is Bush and Dole, one-two in Iowa, the results of the unusual Michigan delegate-selection process will have been known on January 31. Bush won the Michigan primary in 1980 -- Reagan out of money for a media campaign, but with his nomination secure. He has vowed to win a majority of the Michigan delegation in '88 to demonstrate his strength, but it is already clear that Kemp and Pat Robertson in loose alliance have mined the delegates sufficiently to deny Bush anywhere near a majority. More importantly, Dole can do no better than fourth, which means there would not be established the early sense of a two-man race going into New Hampshire.
Kemp's strength is New Hampshire, which favors the populist wing of the party; the electorate has developed a longer attention span than most, feeling its obligation as a screen for the rest of the nation. Governor John Sununu is a Bush supporter. But the Manchester Union-Leader, the state's most important newspaper, is warm to Kemp. The Kemp organization is strongest in New Hampshire. The campus Republicans are active and heavily turned toward Kemp. Charlie Black and Jeff Bell, who engineered and designed the media campaign for Reagan in 1980 that was decisive in crushing Bush, are the top campaign strategists in Kemp's national campaign. It's also hard to forget that both George Bush and Bob Dole presented themselves to this fine-mesh screen of the New Hampshire electorate in 1980, with Bush going from a 15-point lead over Reagan to a 27-point loss, and Dole earning an asterisk, worth less than 1 percent of the vote. The week after New Hampshire, on February 23, brings the South Dakota primary and Minnesota caucuses, with Dole favored in the former and Kemp heavily favored in the latter. At the last two Minnesota state GOP conventions, Kemp has won the presidential straw polls. One of his closest friends in Congress, Rep. Vin Weber, has sold most of the Minnesota organization on Kemp. The same is true of Georgia, one of the states in the March 8 "Super Tuesday" Southern primaries, where Rep. Newt Gingrich, another of Kemp's closest allies, has sold the organization on him. At the Georgia state Republican convention last month, the presidential poll went Kemp 37%, Bush 21%, Dole 18%. (At the more liberal GOP state convention in Wisconsin, June 6, the straw poll of delegates went 36% for Bush, 30% for Dole and 21% for Kemp, no other contenders scoring above 4%.)
George Bush does have organizational strength through the Southern tier, but so does Kemp, whose message and themes have far greater appeal among Southern conservatives and evangelicals than does the Vice President's bone-dry pieties and ambiguities. New Jersey's Gov. Tom Kean surely expects Kemp, on the road to the nomination, will win in New Hampshire and clean up on Super Tuesday. Bush will have the resources and staying power to contest every state, right up to the convention. But once Kemp has demonstrated that his ideas are being accepted by the electorate, Bush and the other contenders who are really not presenting an agenda will be limited to a minority of the delegates.
This process awaits New Hampshire. The national polls are highly unlikely to give more information about 1988, except insofar as they show the ups and downs of Bush and Dole. Kemp is doing remarkably well even now, for a candidate who has never before been scrutinized by a national electorate. In the April national poll of The Wall Street Journal'/NEC, he had 12% to Bush's 33 and Dole's 24. In May's Los Angeles Times national poll, Bush and Dole tied at 27 and Kemp had 12, the closest he has ever been to the front runners. In late May, in The Washington Post/ABC poll, he scored 11% to Bush's 35% and Dole's 28. To the Kemp campaign strategists, who have hoped to get Kemp to 15% in a national poll by early '88, 12% this early looks enormous.
Kemp's greatest weakness is that he has never been in a national political campaign. He has a senior campaign staff that has more cumulative experience in national campaigns than any of the other candidates: Charlie Black and Roger Stone with Reagan in '76, '80 and '84, Jeff Bell with Reagan in '68, '76 and '80, John Buckley and Ed Rollins with Reagan in '84. But this can't substitute for personal experience, and Kemp is clearly learning on the run and mistakes are being made. In Iowa in late May, for example, he utilized almost the entire 15-minute time slot at an important appearance in the farm state talking about enterprise zones and the need to broaden the party's base with blacks and other minorities. The assemblage cheered, but seemed slightly baffled and the news accounts were negative at the speech's inappropriateness. In other ways, Kemp seems almost bored with the competition from the other GOP competitors and is itching to get on with the general election. While he clearly sees the path to the nomination and acts as if he already knows he will be the next President, his senior staff agonizes over his impatience. He has not yet quite won the "primary within the primary," and it would be very costly if he somehow lets it slip away after he's come so close to locking it up.
The problems of Kemp's campaign finances have also surfaced in the press. The campaign has raised about $2 million, but it has spent about as much. This is both because the campaign hasn't raised as much as the top team thought it would at this point and because it has spent more than it should have. The senior staff, it was noted, had its entire experience in national campaigns with Ronald Reagan, who has never had problems raising money because his national standing preceded the tough, new campaign finance laws. The more fundamental error was to rely heavily on direct-mail fundraising, as if a first-time contender without mature lists could pull contributions the way a Goldwater or Reagan could in earlier days. The money coming in from fundraising events suffering as a result. "It's not that people don't want to give to Jack," says Roger Stone. "It's that they just weren't being asked."
The campaign finance laws favor candidates like Bush and Dole, who have run for President before. This is both because they have lists of known donors to their national campaigns, who are the most likely to repeat, and because they sport high numbers in the national polls, which encourages giving by those who want to bet on frontrunners. A worrisome threat to the Kemp campaign is the possibility of indebtedness. Jack and his wife Joanne have determined they will not let debt accumulate as Gary Hart did in 1984, but will suspend the campaign if it gets to that point. This is the reason Donald Rumsfeld dropped out. It is excruciatingly difficult to raise funds at the legal maximum of $1,000 per person for the entire campaign, only $250 of which can qualify next year for Federal matching funds. With even Bush and Dole struggling to build surpluses given these limitations, Senator Laxalt confronts a daunting challenge in building his war chest.
As usually happens when a campaign problem finally surfaces in the press, the Kemp finance problem has already been addressed. The senior staff has pared expenses and brought in competent event organizers to do more asking, and the crisis has simmered down. The goal of raising $6 million by January, with a bankroll for media campaigns in the early states, now seems realistic.
The General Election
One of the handicaps Kemp faces in the contest for the GOP nomination is that the Democrats want anybody but Kemp as their opponent. Reagan was bad enough in '80 and '84, threatening the policy edifice of the Democratic establishment. Kemp, they observe, wants to assault the foundations of the Democratic establishment in a way Reagan never did. There's no way they can hope to win the White House in 1988 with less than 90% of the black vote, and with Kemp the GOP nominee, Democrats could see him pulling 30% of that bloc. They would much prefer losing the White House to Bush or Dole or Laxalt than they would to Kemp, because the others would leave their New Deal coalition intact. This is a burden Kemp faces in the primary season, because every artifice and guile the establisment wings of both parties can devise to block him will be arranged.
Of the Democratic contenders, the "seven dwarfs," not one could possibly defeat Kemp, and none could easily defeat Bush or Dole. Like the Democratic dwarfs who handed the party nomination to Jimmy Carter in 1976, the crop this time is reading the public opinion polls and blabbing protectionism, higher taxes and balanced budgets, civil rights for AIDS carriers, and support, more or less, for the Sandinistas. The two smartest Democrats, Cuomo and New Jersey's Bill Bradley, will watch from the bleachers. At our Boca Raton conference, where we had Kemp and Cuomo on the same platform, Cuomo was badgered to change his mind and get back into the race, that he owed it to his party and the nation to provide some real competition to the Republicans. Cuomo's parting remark, as he skipped from the stage, was "Maybe I'll catch up with you in '92, Jack." Even then, Cuomo saw the Kemp scenario.
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