Lacklustre Dole fuels Republican poll jitters
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Tuesday 23 April 1996
The second half of April was when Mr Dole was supposed to start the march to the White House, reinvigorated after the Easter recess and back in his natural habitat on Capitol Hill. Instead he has seen President Clinton widen his lead to 15 points or more and, far from using his Senate perch to define his policies, he has merely managed to expose Republican divisions on a host of major issues in the autumn campaign.
Even before the primaries, Mr Dole had decided he would be better served staying on as majority leader, rather than step aside to concentrate on the campaign. Better free air-time on the Senate floor, where he controlled the legislative agenda, he reasoned, than paid air time - especially when he was virtually out of money until the summer conventions.
Thus far, alas, the gamble has backfired miserably. On health care, Mr Dole last week manoeuvred himself into seeming to be trying to torpedo a modest but politically popular Bill that would expand insurance coverage for people who changed jobs or who suffered from pre-existing medical conditions. That measure now seems likely to go through, but only thanks to the defection of five Senate Republicans.
Much the same happened with a Bill to increase the minimum wage, pressed by Democrats to underline their concern for the worst-off. But Mr Dole resisted, only to be, in his words, "blindsided" by a group of House Republicans who support the proposed rise from $4.25 (pounds 2.81) to $5.15 (pounds 3.41) an hour. Now the increase will almost certainly be be voted upon, and approved - probably this week.
Mr Dole's basic problem, as he seeks metamorphosis from primary candidate to White House nominee, is his inability to follow the celebrated maxim of Richard Nixon; that a Republican candidate should play to the right during the primaries, where voters are more conservative, but once the nomination is secure, head back to the centre where elections are won and lost.
It is not his fault that he is easily identified with the deeply unpopular Speaker, Newt Gingrich, and the scarcely less unloved Republican Congress - or that the populist Pat Buchanan could still make trouble at the San Diego convention.
But despite a first-hand view of how George Bush suffered from identification with the far-right at the Houston convention of 1992, Mr Dole still courts social and Christian conservatives, as in a blistering attack last week on Mr Clinton for destroying America's moral fabric.
Barely six months before the vote, many already feel that only two developments (best of all, both together) can give the listless Dole campaign real hope. One is nomination of retired General Colin Powell as his running mate, the other is a Whitewater sensation. But Gen Powell continues to say no, while despite every effort of Mr Dole's allies on the Senate Banking Committee and of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in Little Rock, the imagined misdeeds of the then Governor Clinton remain unproven.
- 1 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 4 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45 after suffering from cancer
'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45 after suffering from cancer
Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
MH17 crash: Black boxes show plane suffered 'massive explosive decompression' following shrapnel hit
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
- < Previous
- Next >
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...
£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...
£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...