Bob Dole is from Russell, the Dust Bowl town that nurtured Bob after birth and near-death. When he becomes the vice presidential nominee, he and Ford go to Russell, where Bina is overwhelmed and Bob gets choked up. He fights for Gerald Ford, with the responsibility of winning 130,000 votes a day. And in the end, had less than 10,000 votes in Ohio and Hawaii been different, they would have done it. Though not according to Barbara Walters, who had the nerve to ask Bob, sick and worn with exhaustion, didn't he think that he had lost the election for Jerry Ford?
|This cigar box . . .|
It was a different Bob Dole by '88. In 1974, he'd been in a fight for his life -- his first Senate re-election, his first campaign since his divorce from Phyllis, and with Watergate hanging over his head (metaphorically and literally: he lived there!) It was a vicious campaign, and Bob proved to be the most vicious. And when he returns too the Senate and works with George McGovern(!) on feeding the hungry(!) . . . people went looking for why Bob Dole was Nice.
George Bush was always going places. That's why Bar liked China so much: George had nothing to do at night, few appointments in the afternoon. They had lived so many places, but at the consulate, they actually lived together.
And so he put his foot down and made a speech that said, "I Am A Man." Albeit, "I am a man who . . ." but a man nonetheless. It was a message Bush carried all the way to his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
As the Democrats go, Duke was running sans message. Michael deserved to be president, he believed, by the content of his gubernatorial conduct and not the color of his personality. He was running for "National Governor." And when Susan Estrich came in and saw how Michael and Sasso had done things, well, she had thoughts. "I don't understand how you ran this thing for six months without a fucking thing to say!"
Dick Gephardt now had too much to say: so much attack in him that his killers were worried he was too aggressive. Dick had to knock off Paul Simon ("Bambi" in Joe Trippi's estimation) Bruce Babbitt ("Son of Bambi"), and Al Gore. Gephardt sparred with $2,000-an-hour-worth of Washington lawyers to practice. And then he killed too hard. Shrum and the others were taken aback. "They wanted him to kill, but be himself, but show some balls, but Presidential . . . and there were no answers." This was the most expensive advice a guy could buy.
How wonderful to be running for president.
The Best of The Bobster's Burns
|Bob yukking, 1971|
Before he learned to "Be Nice," Bob Dole had a rep as the toughest campaign hatchet man there was. Here's a sample of his zingers (some were doozies) from this section.
"Go home and ask your parents if they know how many abortions Bill Roy has performed."
"I used to call him southern-fried McGovern . . . but I have a lot of respect for Senator McGovern."
"I figured up, the other day: if we added up the killed and wounded in the Democrat wars, in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans . . . enough to fill the city of Detroit!"
"Carter's got three positions on everything. That's why he wants three debates."
"I thought I was very friendly. I called him 'Fritz' a couple of times. He called me 'hatchet man.'"