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Western Press Review: Open Political Season in the United States

  • Don Hill



Prague, August 12 (RFE/RL) -- Open political season starts today in the United States and ends with to the presidential elections in November. The opposition Republicans hold their national convention today in the Western state of California.

Republican candidate Bob Dole last week chose as vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, a proponent of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Press commentators in the United States and Europe analyze the potential of the Dole-Kemp team and its policies to defeat the incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton.

WASHINGTON POST: Kemp was never tempted by some of politics worst impulses

An editorial in Sunday's edition said: "(There are two big questions concerning Kemp's selection as a vice-presidential candidate. The first is whether he could plausibly assume the duties of the presidency. . . . In our view, Kemp, by experience, knowledge and temperament, is well within the broad boundaries of this test. . . . The second question is whether the choice represents a good mix of impulses from within the party. . . . The fact is that Kemp stands for some of the best impulses in the Republican Party. Many in the Republican Party in recent campaigns have let themselves be tempted by some of the worst impulses in our politics -- race-baiting, nativism and other forms of intolerance. But Kemp was never one of them."

POLITIKEN: Dole retreated from his support of different views on abortion

The Danish newspaper says today in an editorial: "Before Bob Dole casts himself into the election battle against President Clinton, he must secure the support of the whole Republican Party. . . . Dole now (faces a dilemma) over abortion rights, which the conservative wing of the Republicans has wanted to scrap for two decades. Dole had made a surprisingly outspoken statement that different views on abortion are an advantage for a party, not divisive. But when the party program was to be written, he retreated. . . . Dole must realize that he is being judged by the more numerous moderate Republicans.."

LONDON TIMES: Dole has a moving story to tell and a fine career to highlight

Today's paper says in an editorial: "With the opening of the Republican National Convention in San Diego, a long wait finally ends for Bob Dole. . . . Sixteen years have gone since he first sought the presidency. . . . Mr. Dole's (nomination) acceptance speech can lay out the differences between himself and the President in policy and personal terms. The twin themes of tax and (personal) trust are compelling. Mr. Dole has a moving story to tell and a fine career to highlight. He has to do that throughout the convention this week. He will not have a better chance."

NEW YORK TIMES: Dole urges voters to believe they can have guns and butter

In an editorial today, the paper says: "(In public opinion polls) voters, who knew Clinton's defects very well, still said they preferred having him as president. They. . . told pollsters they would choose a candidate who felt as they did about the issues over one who had superior moral fiber. . . . Stripped of his old fiscal faith, Dole, a longtime balanced-budget man, picked up Kemp's tax-cut theories as well as Kemp himself. The nation is in the interesting position of watching a contest in which the Democrats talk about sticking to the fiscal straight-and-narrow, paying one's bills and avoiding debt, while Dole urges voters to believe they can have guns and butter."

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: President Clinton has to operate in a right-wing environment

"God put the modern Republican Party on Earth to reduce the size and scope of government," the paper editorializes today. The newspaper goes on: "In choosing Jack Kemp as his vice presidential running mate, the Republican nominee, Robert Dole, has dramatically reaffirmed this calling. . . . Even if Mr. Dole does not win. . . , American conservatives and their overseas sympathizers ought not to despair. . . . President Clinton now (has) to operate in a right-wing environment. . . . Even if Mr. Clinton wins a second term, he will not be able to reverse this direction."

NEW YORK TIMES: Too many Americans see the Republican Party as uncaring, intolerant and mean

Columnist Anthony Lewis comments in today's paper from the Republican Convention site in San Diego: "The Republican Party has a problem. Too many Americans see it as uncaring, intolerant, mean. . . . Bob Dole's choice of Jack Kemp as his running mate was generally seen as designed to underline his conversion to the economics of cutting taxes and wishing the deficit away. But it was something more: an attempt to soften the image of the Republican Party. Kemp is a compassionate politician. He has spent much of his political life trying to find ways of helping the poor and uplifting urban ghettos. He favors affirmative action. He opposed California's anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 in 1994. He is for banning assault weapons. . . . What Bob Dole can do about the image of heartlessness is limited. His party does not really believe in government responsibility for the weak and the unlucky. And his own tax plan would require enormous cuts in government spending -- none of them in defense or middle-class entitlements."

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Kemp lends credibility to Doles tax-cut commitment

In the U.S. newspaper today, Kevin Willey says in a commentary: "Dole. . . , the former Senate majority leader must persuade voters that despite being a creature of Washington, despite being 73 years old and despite a reputation as the consummate insider dealmaker, he is, in fact, the candidate of change in this race. It's a tough sell. . . . Kemp brings youth (relatively speaking), energy and optimism -- all seriously lacking to date in the Dole campaign. One of the original modern-day supply-side fiscal conservatives, Kemp will lend credibility to Dole's tax-cut commitment."

NEWSWEEK: Kemp isnt good news for Clinton

Senior Editor Jonathan Alter writes in this week's edition of the U.S. news magazine: "First, the good news for the country: the choice of Jack Kemp means a cleaner campaign, with more focus on real views of governance -- however harebrained (foolish) -- and less on the usual trivial distractions. . . . Kemp will peddle his tax-cut patent medicine (false remedies), wax optimistic about the future and launch barbed attacks against Clinton's policies, not his person. . . . Whatever spin Clinton aides put on it, Kemp isn't good news for them, though at this point they accurately reason that it would take something much more disruptive than this decision to change the campaign's basic dynamic. . . . Kemp's crossover appeal and standing as the GOP's (Republicans') Mr. Compassion make it harder for Democrats to demonize the other side as a bunch of Gingrichite extremists (the reference is to Republican hardliner Newt Gingrich, leader of the opposition-controlled U.S. House of Representatives)."

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