Magazine article Insight on the News

He Isn't Looking for Perfection - Just the Impossible '10.' (a Running Mate for Presidential Hopeful Bob Dole)(Column)

Magazine article Insight on the News

He Isn't Looking for Perfection - Just the Impossible '10.' (a Running Mate for Presidential Hopeful Bob Dole)(Column)

Article excerpt

With the Republican National Convention fast approaching, Bob Dole has set for himself two tasks, one difficult and one impossible. The difficult task is winning the presidency -- difficult, but not impossible. The impossible task is finding a perfect running mate.

It's a task he didn't need to take on, and it's one that once completed could come back to haunt him. In fairness, Dole hasn't actually talked about finding a perfect running mate. But what he did say is that on a scale of one to 10 he wants a 10. What that means, if it doesn't mean perfection, is hard to tell.

Were Dole Bill Clinton he might be talking about actress Bo Derek, the 10 in the seventies movie of the same name. But Dole, being Dole, thinks almost entirely in political terms, so it is most likely that he is talking not about a perfect face and figure but rather about the perfect politician.

By his own estimation, when Dole ran for vice president with Gerald Ford in 1976 he was a seven. He doesn't say what Dan Quayle was, or Walter Mondale or Al Gore, although each wound up as half of a winning ticket. What combination of factors made Dole a seven? Let's look.

He was a seasoned politician with eight years in the House and eight in the Senate. He had served two years as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was a wounded veteran of World War II who had been active in the effort to find and bring home the men missing in action during the Vietnam War. He had a reputation for being a tough political infighter who was loyal to Republican presidents. He was a tireless and effective campaigner. His wife was smart, attractive, articulate, political and a good campaigner. She had served in the Nixon White House and on the Federal Trade Commission. Although viewed as a conservative, Dole was acceptable across the philosophical spectrum of the party. He came from Kansas and had a broad appeal throughout the farm belt. He still was young at 53, vigorous, imposing and blessed with a wry wit.

What would it have taken to make him an eight, nine or even a 10? More charisma, perhaps. A brighter, lighter demeanor. A more exciting speaking style. A bigger reputation as a national leader. Less of a tendency to get uptight under stressful conditions.

Is there a 10 anywhere in the Republican Party today? It is doubtful. Just consider the prospects:

* Colin Powell: Apparently Dole wanted him, but Powell has ruled himself out. His fatal flaw: no fire in the belly.

* John Engler: tough, conservative, popular and the can-do governor of Michigan, an important state. …

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