Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon's Surprise: A Woman in '96

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon's Surprise: A Woman in '96

Article excerpt

A few months before his death, Richard Nixon opined that " '94 will be a great year for non-incumbents. People want change. Clinton asked for it; now the country is going to demand it."

But to a man who won four out of five national races, matching FDR's record, the focus had to be on the national ticket in 1996.

"Lamar Alexander would be an excellent president. It's early for him, though. Like Carroll Campbell or Tommy Thompson, he may be VP."

Nixon then came up with a surprise: "In '96, we should have a woman on the ticket. It doesn't do anything for the Democrats, but would do plenty for Republicans. Not a senator, Hutchison or Kassebaum; has to be a governor. Executive experience."

He grinned at the thought of the New Jersey governor as vice president: "Christie Whitman would be a real sleeper on the ticket." He liked the way Gov. Whitman, daughter of a Republican state chairman, rose to a crisis: "She showed great presence during the Rollins flap."

What should she do? "Get to New Jersey's issues - crime, welfare, drugs. Be progressive but conservative. Travel abroad to get New Jersey business; that's always a good excuse. Then come back and talk to the New York Economic Club."

To the top slot: Is Bob Dole the front-runner? "Yes, and if Dole keeps his voice and his sense of humor, he has a good shot." He thought about that and pointed to my notebook, to make sure I wrote it down: "Dole likes people, you know."

I have an underlined note: Dole likes people.

"Kemp has the problem of a young star fading, but he has enthusiastic supporters and that's good. To get over the question about being heavy enough, he has to travel, make himself more of a world figure. No more Johnny-one-note on economics. He's an attractive candidate and has to win an early primary."

Nixon thought Dick Cheney, the defense secretary who won a war, was an homme serieux, but was "a beltway candidate"; the approval of the Washington Establishment was a negative.

Pat Buchanan, one of his former speech-writers? "Pat's a true believer. Third party, maybe." He thought Pat likely to split if the Republican Party backed away from its anti-abortion stand, as it must do to win. …

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