Dole picks 'pin-up' Kemp

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Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate, chose as his vice-presidential running mate yesterday a man renowned for his flamboyance, passion, eloquence and outspokenness - qualities all which Mr Dole himself sorely lacks and his moribund election campaign desperately needs.

Looking happier and more relaxed than he has done in a long time, Mr Dole introduced Jack Kemp, a former congressman who served as housing secretary in the cabinet of George Bush, to a boisterous crowd in Russell, Kansas, the small town where Mr Dole was born.

Describing Mr Kemp as "an American original" who added "integrity, courage and character" to the Republican ticket, Mr Dole promised the two would prove to be "a winning team" in the 5 November election.

Mr Kemp then took the floor, instantly injecting into the Republican campaign the grandiloquence and patriotic fire that Americans expect of their candidates but rarely see in Mr Dole. Promising to tax-cut America to greatness once again, Mr Kemp, 61, said: "American ideas grip the imagination of men and women in every corner of the globe."

Seeking to portray the Dole-Kemp candidacy in a heroic light, Mr Kemp declared that this was "the most exciting time in the most eventful campaign in human history". "The history of our nation has become the central feature of the history of the world

While the entire world might not necessarily agree, what is beyond doubt is that inspiration and leadership are something the Republican faithful have been hungering for since Mr Dole was confirmed as the party's presidential candidate five months ago. In Mr Kemp they believe they might have found it.

Among most Republicans, the immediate reaction to the appointment of Mr Kemp, a shock-haired party pin-up who used to play quarter back in the professional American football league, was one of unrestrained celebration. Just the fillip the Republicans, demoralised by President Bill Clinton's 20 points-plus poll lead, needed on the eve of the party convention, which begins in San Diego tomorrow.

The danger, wiser Republican heads no less quickly perceived, was that the glamorous Mr Kemp would overshadow the distinctly uncharismatic Mr Dole.

Another concern is that Mr Dole and Mr Kemp have a history of being at loggerheads over fundamental questions of party policy. In so far as Mr Dole has had any success in communicating an issue, he stands for his belief in America's crying need to cut the deficit and balance the federal budget. Mr Kemp believes that a dramatic cut in taxes is what the American economy needs, arguing this would generate growth and automatically boost government revenues. Although Mr Kemp is "pro-life", his selection will also reassure Republicans who support abortion rights that their views will not be submerged in San Diego.

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