The Republican field for the White House suffered another, widely expected, loss yesterday when Jack Kemp, a member of the Bush Cabinet and leading light of the party's ``social market'' wing, announced he would not seek the nomination to challenge President Clinton in 1996. Mr Kemp said he did not wish to subject himself to the rigours of a campaign and wanted more time with his family. Recent polls have shown him well behind the front runner, the Senate Majority leader, Bob Dole, while several of his political associates have signed up with other likely candidates. But the true reason is that Mr Kemp is out of step with the aggressive brand of Republicanism now dominating the party. The man described as a "bleeding-heart conservative" is a lone voice in a party dominated by conservatives, few of whose hearts bleed.
The suburbs are the citadel of Republicanism, but Mr Kemp was a crusader for America's troubled inner cities. He opposes term limits, believes a balanced budget is a lesser priority than tax cuts to revive the economy and he opposed California's Proposition 187 that would deny welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. "That's California gone," he said, after the state's voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative last November.
Mr Kemp said he "will not be absent from the political debate of 1996", implying he might re-enter the race. But the standard-bearer of his brand of politics is more likely to be a moderate governor, such as William Weld of Massachusetts.