Bob Dole for President!

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Chris Christie and Donald Trump have both jumped into the presidential race and as luck would have it they are both right here in New York / North Jersey where I work and live—or actually, they are more likely in Iowa where I used to work and live. It is interesting to me that it would be considerably easier to get up close and personal with either of these gents in Iowa than it is here on the East coast where they (apparently) live and work. Maybe it ‘s because there are 22 million people in the greater New York metro area as opposed to 3 million in Iowa, or that both the Mets and the Yankees are “gettin’ business done” this year—just a lot more distractions in Gotham to keep one’s busy self occupied than there are in Iowa. But more about that in a bit.

One of the funnier things I have heard on “the Donald” side of things is that the campaign’s greatest worry is him having to make an appearance on a windy day. We’ve all seen pictures of that hair in full tilt boogey mode on a windy day. Frankly, I don’t think the Donald gives a hoot about his flyaway hair. He surely doesn’t care what people think about what he says— why not infuriate 100 million or so Mexicans right out of the shoot ? I don’t think that massive ego is even phased.

Christie on the other hand has the good sense to get high-handed with just a few people that are in the same room with him— rather than a whole country. Christie has had a lot of experience with this “I tell it like it is” persona but Trump, not so much. It’s like he opened his mouth to “tell it like it is” on a Tuesday and by Thursday Univision, most of Mexico and NBC were all yelling YOU’RE FIRED in” Univision-unison”. Sometimes what goes around comes around—-big time. How funny is that? The “You’re Fired” guy gets axed.

I don’t think it is fair to say that Christie and Trump are two similar guys—the “tell it like it is guys”. Christie’s an intelligent quite well-spoken fellow—former U.S. Attorney for goodness sake. Although I have worked with a number of A.U.S.A.’s who weren’t, shall we say, Presidential caliber. At any rate. Christie’s kind of a Houdini-like escape artist— getting out of the GWB “deal” and all. I’m not even going to raise that incident to the level of “scandal”. It was a traffic jam…in New Jersey/ New York. So what else is new? I could relate the story of my drive from Jersey to Queens a couple of Friday afternoons ago. I could have been half way to Chicago by the time that ordeal was over. So the traffic jam on the bridge is pretty small potatoes to my mind.

Back to Iowa. Candidates are a lot more accessible In Iowa than in the East. In 1994 I was running for County Attorney in Scott County, Iowa. I got a call one afternoon that Bob Dole was coming to town in a couple of hours and as many Republican candidates as possible should turn out. I, being a big underdog against a 16 year incumbent, was not exactly at the top of the Republican party heap, but– I didn’t have a whole lot better to do that day.

I arrived at this large banquet hall and all the party honchos were sitting at some sort of Dais waiting for Senator Dole. I on the other hand was in the back of the room where there was a table of sandwiches. When no one was expecting it, Dole appeared through a back door right next to me. There I was making small talk about the quality of sandwiches in Iowa with potentially the next President of the United States. Before “those in charge” noticed, Bob and I became friends, and discovered that we had in common the fact that he had also run for County Attorney— in Kansas, years before. He proceeded to haul me up to the front of the room and make a short speech about how the party needed to help an underdog such as Mr. Koos in a tough campaign.

Well I can tell you that that made a big impression on me and I started to follow Senator Dole’s campaign more closely and I read a couple of books about him. From every indication I could find Bob Dole was and is to this day (he will be 92 on July 22) a true Gentleman—politics aside he was a very nice fellow.

My thought today is that none of the candidates running on either side project the sincerity and for want of a better word, “character” of a Bob Dole. Maybe the goal over the next several months is for one of them to display that sort of, again, for want of a better word— “Presidential temperament”.

P.S. Neither Dole nor I beat the incumbent back then, but it wasn’t for not putting up a heck of a fight!