Jack Kemp's campaign is fizzling. Bob Dole's is picking up speed. And George Bush is holding steady.
That's the latest GOP presidential campaign report from Orange County on the three major Republican presidential candidates--Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, Sen. Robert J. Dole of Kansas and Vice President George Bush.
All three have scheduled major campaign stops in Orange County in the next month.
Dole will be the keynote speaker Saturday at the state Republican convention in Anaheim. He also has scheduled his first fund-raiser in Orange County for Nov. 23.
Kemp and Bush are scheduled to hold $250-per-person fund-raisers here on the same weekend. Kemp's is scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Disneyland Hotel and Bush's will be Oct. 17 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach.
The three candidates are vying for the loyalties, financial and otherwise, of voters in one of the stauncher Republican counties in the country. Because the race for the GOP nomination is expected to end long before the California primary on June 7, the candidates mostly come to California for money to spend in the Midwest, East and South. Their first big tests will be in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, both in February.
Kemp, for example, disappointed California Republicans when he decided to forgo speaking at their convention Saturday in favor of a GOP state convention this weekend in Minnesota--which has a March 15 primary.
"We can't go to California before we get through Minnesota," explained the Kemp campaign's deputy press secretary, Mark Berry. "Minnesota is one of our strongest states, and Dole has a strong push going on in that state, trying to wrest it away from us. So we had to go to that convention."
Kemp's next scheduled appearance in Orange County is the Oct. 16 joint fund-raiser with Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton). But Berry said that has not been finalized, although 3,500 invitations have been mailed.
A spokeswoman said Dannemeyer hopes that 400 will attend, with proceeds to be split evenly between his office and Kemp's.
Berry said a decision was expected to be made today.
"We've got a zillion different events," Berry said. "We're scheduled to be in Iowa that day. I assume that it (the Oct. 16 dinner) is on, since there is both a reception and dinner planned. But I don't know. It could change."
Although Berry said "California will not be ignored," the unpredictability of Kemp's campaign in Orange County cannot help what Republican observers say is an already faltering effort. Kemp started out strong here with a fund-raiser for 450 people at Brandon Birtcher's San Juan Capistrano estate that raised $150,000. And he had some natural support because his brother, Tom Kemp, lives in the county.
But, as Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, a Bush supporter, put it, Kemp's campaign "seems to be stalled out."
"It just hasn't taken fire," said one GOP leader.
Bush's campaign, on the other hand, is holding its own in Orange County. The dinner on Oct. 17, Bush's first fund-raiser in the county, has attracted some attention. All five county supervisors are listed as co-sponsors of the cocktail reception, although only two of them, Riley and board Chairman Roger R. Stanton, actually have endorsed Bush..
Local Bush Supporters
"He's the vice president of the United States. That was my rationale for lending my support" to the reception, Wieder said. She has endorsed Kemp.
Bush has lined up the support of several developers in the county, including George L. Argyros of Arnel Development, Donald M. Koll, William Lyon and Donald L. Bren and Jack Flanigan of the Irvine Co. Also, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) can be expected to provide a boost to the Bush campaign among the more conservative Republicans.
But Dole's campaign has picked up speed in the county recently, according to GOP leaders. A group of Republicans, including Buck Johns, John Cronin and Doy Henley, have organized a reception Saturday afternoon at Johns' Santa Ana Heights home. They are what one Republican called "the smaller big guys who absolutely mainline politics--they live for the political hit."
These men are using their contacts within the party to generate support for Dole, the Republican said.
Dole is taking full advantage of that this weekend as the only presidential candidate scheduled to speak at the GOP state convention.
'Double Dole' Events
He agreed to speak Saturday night instead of Sunday morning and is bringing his wife, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, to convention events, which will include private meetings with potential supporters.
The so-called "double-Dole" events can be expected to become more frequent now that Elizabeth Dole has announced that she will resign her post Oct. 1 to campaign with her husband.
GOP spokesman Joe Irvin said that in addition to being a "solo performer" this weekend, Dole may reap an added benefit because of a recent court decision that gives more freedom to state parties to write their own rules. Irvin said the decision could mean that party organizations may be able to endorse candidates in primaries. It is "entirely possible" that Republican activists could decide at the party's February convention to endorse someone in the California primary, he said.
"If Bob Dole is the one that comes out to talk to us, that may help him," Irvin said. "There is a lot of opportunity to meet people who have leadership roles in California Republican politics, people who have not decided who they want to support yet, financially or otherwise."