Oliver North's Campaign

January 16, 1994

After three months of formal campaigning, Oliver North has become the favorite to win the Republican Senate nomination in Virginia and then oust Democratic incumbent Sen. Charles Robb. Despite problems involving sexual escapades and wiretapping of his adversary Gov. Douglas Wilder, Senator Robb is considered a cinch to be renominated, now that Governor Wilder has decided not to challenge him.

Mr. North is riding his fame as the Iran-contra central figure into political viability. He is doing this despite considerable evidence that he is far outside the mainstream of Virginia Republicanism. In fact, it can be argued that he is outside any political mainstream. In his stump speeches in Virginia he repeatedly attacks the Reader's Digest as part of some liberal "media elite" out to get him. The Digest is practically the house organ of American political conservatism.

Other evidence that Mr. North is not your traditional political animal is found in the assessment of his candidacy by those who know first-hand the work that made him famous.

The following people who worked with Mr. North in the Reagan White House are supporting another Republican for the nomination: Alexander Haig, George Shultz, Caspar Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, Edwin Meese, Lyn Nofziger, Elliot Abrams. That candidate is Jim Miller, Ronald Reagan's budget director. Virginia's other senator, John Warner, a conservative Republican, has praised Mr. Miller's senatorial potential -- and he has expressed doubts about "what [Oliver North] would bring to the Senate."

Jim Miller is little known and boring. If Mr. North is defeated it will probably be by self-destruction. He has liabilities that a campaign could highlight. In addition to his lack of

endorsements from those who know him best, he also has a demonstrable record of being one of the most dishonest public figures in recent years. (The Reader's Digest documentation of his many, many falsehoods is what got it on his hate list.) And it also begins to appear that some of his various fund-raising efforts that seemed to be cause-related have produced six-figure financial bonanzas for him personally.

Senator Warner makes the point that Mr. North's conviction for his Iran-contra activities was only "technically" reversed by the courts. He is a lawbreaker. Virginia Republicans nominate by convention, not primary. Will delegates be as forgiving of such a flaw in a would-be public servant as the polls suggest the public is? That is the key question for Mr. North's candidacy.

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