Kemp as Treasury Secretary
Jude Wanniski
March 16, 1999


Memo To: Bob Novak
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your Monday Column

Great job, Robert. You captured the full flavor of my lunch with Dan Quayle and the Wall Streeters. He did say he would ask Jack Kemp to be his Treasury Secretary, if he made it to the Oval Office. The only thing you missed is the idea that there was no quid pro quo asked of Kemp by the former Vice President. Indeed, Quayle says he would recommend Jack for the Treasury spot to whomever gets to the White House, although he would like that honor. This is interesting in light of the tickets being sold to the governor's mansion in Austin, by George W. Bush. It has twice been reported now, once by you, once by Rick Berke of the NYTimes on Monday this week, that if you want to meet with the Governor in hopes of being an advisor, you have to pledge fealty to him in advance! For goodness sakes! Marty Feldstein was invited down by Larry Lindsey, but on condition that he had to sign up for the voyage right now!

When Quayle called me up on the Monday before the Super Bowl, he asked if I would write him a campaign blueprint. When I told him I was in Kemp's corner, he said he didn't know Jack was running. I said Jack had promised to make up his mind before the Superbowl, which he always attends with 150 close friends. I told him I'd let him know what Jack had decided. When I told Jack the next day about the conversation, he confided that he was not going to run. So I called Quayle and said I could help him if he wished. We talked for an hour, and I indicated I could really only offer help at this stage. Support is another matter. Until I'm satisfied that he is the best man for the job, I said I would continue offering help to any other candidates who would like my advice, including Vice President Gore and Bill Bradley. On the other hand, I told him in these exact words: "I'm thrilled you showed up and knocked on my door, with a nice bunch of posies, asking me for a date. I'll be happy to go out with you, and if it works out, we could get engaged. And if that works out, we could get married. But that, Mr. Vice President, will require a gold wedding band!" He gave a big laugh and said, "Well, let's try it."

In the several weeks since, I've sent him bundles of things to read, including two books, and he has consumed them all. He told me he read my recent political book, The Last Race of the 20th Century, on one trip to Indiana. And he almost was finished Charles Beard's great book on the United States, The Republic, which I think everyone who thinks of running for President should read. As you indicated in your column, he really doesn't have that far to go to be a fully-fledged supply-sider. Since I first met him in early 1989, right after the inauguration, I've been impressed with how smart he was relative to the conventional stereotype. When I met with him in New York two weeks ago, before our lunch, I had to actually calm him down when the subject of the International Monetary Fund came up. He seemed ready to burn the place down, but I said it only needed a thorough housecleaning and a new team at the top. Thus far, he's been a fun date. Maybe we will go steady.