May not have cut much of a figure in Democratic...


March 05, 1992

BOB KERREY may not have cut much of a figure in Democratic primaries so far, but back home in Nebraska he's been wildly popular. Look at what "The Almanac of American Politics" said about him in 1986:

"His victory [as governor in 1982] was a triumph of energy over routine, of enthusiasm over plodding. Kerrey ran as a 39-year-old restaurant owner with astonishing credentials. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam and, after convalescing, went around the country denouncing the war. Although he lost his right leg below the knee, he took up running, and now runs the marathon. Once in office in staid Nebraska, he began dating sultry movie star Debra Winger. How can a man like that be stopped?"

Four years later, the 1990 Almanac said that Mr. Kerrey, then a Nebraska senator, "is one politician who stirs genuine passion from his constituents. After almost a decade in politics, he still seems anything but a professional politician. He is a man of striking determination . . . . In 1986, Kerrey shocked most politicians by deciding at 43 not to seek re-election, despite 70 percent-plus job approval ratings (and even though voters repealed his seat belt law and sales tax for education); in 1988, he surprised very few by winning the Senate seat . . . .

"His personal magnetism leads many who know him to wonder whether he might be a presidential candidate some day . . . . In the meantime, he is just getting his introduction to national and international issues, with which he doesn't claim to be deeply conversant."

His shortcoming in those last two areas help explain his poor showing in Maryland on Tuesday.

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