Party's hopes and fears hang on Dole's words
THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Thursday 15 August 1996
Yesterday brought the moment Mr Dole has yearned for ever since his first unsuccessful run for the White House in 1980: the traditional convention floor roll-call vote of states, formally bestowing the crown upon him at last, at his third time of asking. But he has spent most of the past two days elsewhere, working on the address that may make or break his campaign.
Thus far the convention has been an unexpected success for the Republicans. Even the major television networks have paid their backhanded compliments, complaining that in the tightly scheduled live segments they run each night they have been forced to dance to the tune of the organisers. In the past 10 days Mr Dole has achieved most of his objectives. He has produced an arresting economic plan centred on a 15 per cent across-the- board tax cut, in the ebullient Jack Kemp he has picked arguably the strongest available vice-presidential running mate, and he has secured the endorsement of his arch foe Pat Buchanan.
Above all, in stark contrast to both the divisive and meanspirited Houston four years ago and to the highly conservative platform approved here, the message sent out to ordinary Americans from the convention stage in San Diego this week has been relentlessly moderate, upbeat and youthful.
Presentation has been slick in the extreme. Abortion, the issue which more than any other divides the party, has gone virtually unmentioned at the podium. Speaker Newt Gingrich did appear on Tuesday night. But he scarcely referred to the deeply unpopular Congress he leads, extolling instead the virtues of compassion and charity, and hailing Martin Luther King as "the greatest Georgian of the 20th century".
No less assiduously, the party has pursued the female voters among whom Mr Dole is exceptionally weak. Women such as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas and Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey governor, have been constantly featured, and Tuesday's keynote speech was entrusted to the 38-year-old New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari, who came across less as a political heavyweight than a harassed young mother from a TV sitcom - exactly as Mr Dole's advisers intended.
"I don't know a mom today who isn't being stretched to the limit trying to hold down a job while trying to hold down the fort," she said, in a naked pitch for the support of middle-class, suburban women - just like herself. She added some effective barbs against Mr Clinton. Her speech would be "a lot like a Bill Clinton promise: It won't last long and will sound like a Republican talking."
Bringing delegates to their feet, she depicted him as a dishonest and devious radical, and his White House as a nest of his "truth-dodging, FBI-abusing, privacy-violating, drug-coddling friends".
Now Mr Dole must similarly rise to the occasion. After a listless and bungling early campaign, the convention offers the candidate his biggest and best chance to sell himself to a sceptical public. At 73, he must dispel fears that he is too old, not least by providing the rousing vision that Americans, however unfairly, expect from their President, but which the pragmatic deal-maker Mr Dole has been conspicuously short on.
A poor speech would be a disaster, even a moderate one would run risk of being overshadowed by Mr Kemp, a compelling orator who makes his own acceptance speech tonight. Mr Dole must recapture the moving moment when he resigned from the Senate in June, setting out on his last campaign as "just a man ... with nowhere to go but the White House, or home".
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Details emerge of two young Iranians using stolen passports in search for a better life
Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete's friend asked him if 'he was f***ing mad' after shooting through sunroof
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 1 Watch: The student election Macklemore parody that isn't completely awful - and all the others that are
- 2 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Joanna Lumley’s garden bridge over the Thames gets £30m seal of approval from Government
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to England and Arsenal striker
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: One of the largest mobile advert...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client specialises in creati...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Private Cli...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residential...