The Conservative Responsibility in 1996: A Symposium: Dole Drums

William A. Rusher

June 1, 1996

Memo to: Senator Dole

From: Bill Rusher

A few suggestions for the campaign:

1. Your central message should be positive–upbeat about the future of America and, as far as possible, substantive and specific. In addition, of course, Clinton must be criticized, but a lot of this can be left to surrogates. Your own attacks on Clinton should probably be confined to a few specific points (see below).

2. On the positive side, describe the kind of America we can have if we reduce the tax and regulatory load on our citizens. Call for treating all Americans as equals, instead of preferring some to the disadvantage of others. Echo Monroe’s assertion that America is “the friend of freedom everywhere, but the defender only of its own”–meaning that we will extend humanitarian aid wherever we can, but that the lives of American men and women will be put at risk only where this country’s vital interests are concerned.

3. On the negative side, demonstrate–by the bills that Congress passes during the remainder of this session, and that Clinton vetoes–what a roadblock Clinton is to real reform of welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Declare that you will guide Congress in passing reasonable reforms, then sign the bills rather than veto them. (How about this for a slogan: “Give gridlock a rest!”)

4. Make the abolition of race preferences in governmental actions a centerpiece of your campaign. Stress that you favor such “affirmative action” policies as job training and outreach, but are dead set against race preferences. Make a big speech in Los Angeles demanding that Clinton endorse the anti-preference California Civil Rights Initiative that is on the ballot there this November.

5. Try to limit the number of TV debates (they are not your best arena), but don’t get uptight about the ones that take place. Sure, Clinton will be seen as the “winner” by anyone looking for youth, charm, and glibness; but a lot of Americans would rather have as president somebody who has age and experience, and the wisdom these bring. Don’t be afraid to look thoughtful, take your time, and deliver your judgments in the tone of a Wise Old Man–especially in the field of foreign affairs.

6. Pace yourself: Avoid exhaustion.

7. Look on the electorate not as a wild beast or as a dangerously capricious acquaintance, but as a genuine friend. Many millions of Americans wish you well.

William A. Rusher, a political strategist and author, is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute.