Will Dole be his own Agnew? Campaign role: Kemp told him he wouldn't be hatchet man or attack dog.

August 23, 1996

JACK KEMP SAYS he "made it clear" to Bob Dole that he would not be his "hatchet man" on the campaign trail. "I said, 'You know, if you need an Agnew. . . ' and Dole said, 'Jack, even before you ask, you are not my attack dog.' I don't want you to run that kind of campaign.' "

"So Dole will do it," writes Newsweek's Howard Fineman, "as will GOP surrogates and free agents. Wild forces will freely roam."

It would be quite a departure from tradition if the top of the ticket took the low road and the second man took the high road. Richard Nixon assigned Spiro Agnew to the low road in 1968 (and 1970 and 1972) while he himself tried to remain above it all -- like Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, who assigned his No. 2, Nixon, to the hatchet man, attack dog role.

We hate to think of hatchets and attack dogs and wild forces roaming free, whether or not they are led by Bob Dole. Frankly we would be surprised if he really became his own Agnew. He is still trying to live down his reputation as President Ford's attack dog in the 1976 campaign. As vice presidential nominee he came across as snarling and bitter, which is quite different from the Bob Dole persona of the 1996 campaign trail.

This campaign is already getting a little rough around the edges. Some of the remarks being made about President and Mrs. Clinton by some high-level Republicans are uncalled for. And Jack Kemp has already become the object of irrelevant innuendo. For example, the fact that for medical reasons he was excused from active duty when his Army Reserve unit was called up in 1961. That has about as much to do with his ability to be vice president as does, say, his pass-completion percentage. We believe the public is tired of all this.

In one sense, Jack Kemp already is Bob Dole's Spiro Agnew. The Republican Party's official certificate of nomination sent to state election boards identifies its slate as "Bob Dole, Russell, Kansas" and "Jack Kemp, Bethesda, Maryland." Another local boy makes good!

Pub Date: 8/23/96

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