To: Steve Forbes
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Why not?
You made the right decision in getting out of the presidential race, Steve. Where I thought you might have a genuine shot at the nomination in 1996, when the GOP field was devoid of a growth candidate, I think your campaign this year was hard-wired for failure from the start. When Bush and Quayle both stepped in with "supply-side tax cuts," your advantage was thoroughly diluted. You thought you could be the candidate of the conservatives, but too many others crowded into that little turf. No matter how hard you tried to straighten out your abortion position, the impression still was left that you had changed philosophies in mid-stream. As late as last week, Alan Keyes was beating you up for changing from "pro-abortion" to "pro-life," when of course you were never "pro-abortion." It was not a good time for you to be going after the big brass ring, which is why I urged you early on to take a pass and run for the Senate this year.
I think you should decide quickly that this is what you will do. You are still in motion, still mentally prepared for a marathon to November. New Jersey does not have a Republican Senate candidate and those who are in the race for the June primary are so weak that Bob Novak is counting this a definite hold for the Democrats. If you don't run now, right away, and shift gears for the opening practically created for you, I think you would have to forget a career in elective politics altogether. It would be very hard to get up-and-running again for Congress or the Governorship, and of course you would never consider a run for the White House having been beaten back twice. Two strikes are hard to take, but you get one more swing, Steve. You have so much to offer and would be such a force on the Senate floor, with more understanding of the way the world works than the other 99, that I think the New Jersey electorate would be happy to have you there. You wouldn't need another zillion dollars to do it either. And if you do it and fail, you will be able to forget the idea once and for all, not have it nagging at you again -- and not having anyone nagging at you to try again.
In any case, I want you to know how much I admire you for the enormous effort of time, energy and fortune you have put into these campaigns. Your 1996 run completely changed the dynamics of the race and produced a political culture that led to the 1997 tax cuts, which I think have been the greatest source of sustenance for the economy, the stock market, and the federal budget surpluses we have enjoyed. You don't have to think you are unloved and unwanted by the voters. And I think if you gave yourself a few days to think things over, talk to some old friends, you may find great enthusiasm for a Senate run. You might even be able to finance it with other people's money!!!