Q U I C K T A K E
With three previous turns around the national track -- once as
Gerald Ford's vice presidential nominee and twice in his own right, Bob
Dole is the GOP's elder statesman.
A bona fide war hero who still bears the scars of his heroism in his
disabled right arm, a former GOP national chairman, five-term veteran of
the Senate, Senate majority leader, both in the mid-1980s and again now
in the mid-1990s, Dole has earned a reputation as a savvy politician --
an image he burnished as Senate minority leader in 1994, when he led his
disciplined GOP troops into a successful campaign to thwart virtually
all of the Democrats' legislative initiatives. But Dole has also earned
a reputation for meanness. He played bad cop to Gerald Ford's good cop
during their unsuccessful 1976 White House bid and has had a tough time
since shaking the image of an acid-tongued political hatchet man.
Dole headed into the 1996 race insisting that he was more "relaxed,
or serene, at peace," but after his New Hampshire loss lashed out at
winner Patrick Buchanan as an "extremist." Dole's principal message is
smaller government. The quintessential Washington insider is running on
a promise of returning power to the people, through their state and
In the breast pocket of his perpetually crisp white shirts, he keeps
an index card on which is printed the 10th Amendment, which reserves for
the states all powers not expressly granted the federal government.
While he fits the description of a classic conservative, Dole's
right-wing credentials are not nearly as sharply edged as many
conservative Republicans might like.