In HIS new book,"Standing Firm,"Dan Quayle writes of l988...

May 09, 1994|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

In HIS new book,"Standing Firm,"Dan Quayle writes of l988, when he was being criticized within and without the Bush-Quayle camp, that he was so miserable" he asked his wife Marilyn, Should I quit?" She replied, You have to stay,and you have to fight!"

That sounded familiar to this presidential trivia junkie. Sure enough, in his memoir "RN", Richard Nixon recounts how he was ready to get off the 1952 ticket when insiders and outsiders were pressuring him to. He said to his wife Pat, "Maybe I ought to resign." She replied, "You can't think of resigning!"

Both candidates listened to their wives. Nixon ended up president. Quayle might yet.

Quayle began his book tour last Friday in Washington. He's in New York today. But the interesting thing about his tour itinerary is the number of Southern stops -- 10: Boca Raton, Birmingham, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Columbia, Charlotte, Raleigh, Memphis and Nashville. He hits more cities in the South than in any other region. Nine in California and the West. Six in the Northeast. Five in the Midwest. And one in Canada. (Canada?)

Interesting, but unsurprising. That's the new geography of Republicanism. In the last seven presidential elections, Republican candidates carried, cumulatively, 56 Southern states, to the Democrats' 16.

The South has been so good to the Republican Party that it was surprising that Jack Kemp told the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Atlanta weekend before last that the party needs "a Southern strategy quite different from the Southern strategy of many decades ago."

He wants it to appeal to black voters. It should, but it better do it carefully, so as not to alienate those Southerners who turned from the party of their Confederate ancestors to the party of Abraham Lincoln 30 years ago largely because of the race issue. (Many decades ago, before Barry Goldwater, when the Republican Party was the civil rights party, it always got shut out in the South.)

Quayle is popular in the South, but he has a big liability. He's from the Midwest. Every Republican presidential nominee since 1960, except for that accident Gerald Ford in 1976, has been a product of Southwestern (Southern California, Arizona) or Southern (Texas) politics.

The presidential hopefuls at that party leadership meeting in Atlanta were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Carroll Campbell of South Carolina, Phil Gramm of Texas, and Bob Dole of Kansas and Kemp of New York (or is he a Marylander, like Bill Brock?). BULLETIN: Kemp to move residence to Los Angeles, according to the new Business Week.

He was born and raised there, so it makes sense, politically. Don't forget that in 1996, California, the biggest electoral prize, will hold an early presidential primary. If Gov. Pete Wilson is re-elected there this year, he will almost certainly become the party's front-runner for the nomination. If he loses, the state might embrace Kemp as a favorite son.

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