Kemp Gets A Wake-Up Call At Southern GOP Meeting
'96 veep nominee blows an opportunity in Biloxi
By John King/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 4) -- Several associates of Republican Jack Kemp said his lackluster performance and reception at last weekend's Southern Republican conference in Biloxi, Miss., was a "wake-up call" and "bucket of cold water" in the face of the 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee.
"He gave the same old speech at 100 miles an hour and got a hard lesson in how far the base has moved away from that," one Kemp loyalist said.
That loyalist and two other Kemp advisors and associates said they had used the poor reception to impress on Kemp he needed to be far more committed and disciplined if he wanted to properly lay the groundwork for a 2000 presidential run.
"He is going to have to decide if he is serious about this," said one of the advisors.
One said Kemp needed to commit to a new stump speech, "stop being a
prima donna" and spend more time courting GOP activists instead of quickly visiting events for speeches and then leaving town.
Kemp has committed to raising $1 million for his political action
committee to help GOP candidates this year. It has roughly $300,000 in the bank and the sources said one result of the Biloxi event was several pointed reminders to Kemp that he needed to make more fund-raising phone calls and commit to additional events to meet the $1 million goal.
Kemp is scheduled to speak at a county Republican dinner in New Hampshire later this month.