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Dole May Resign as Senate GOP Leader

November 17, 1987|JACK NELSON | Times Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), only a week after officially announcing his presidential candidacy, is shaking up his campaign staff and contemplating resigning as Senate minority leader to concentrate on his quest for the Republican nomination.

Dole, who has had serious organizational problems in past national campaigns, decided on the shake-up after a harsh assessment of his organization by his new campaign chairman, former Labor Secretary William E. Brock III.

Brock, who also believes that it would be "extremely difficult" for Dole to continue serving indefinitely as both a candidate and the Senate GOP leader, reportedly found the senator's campaign organization to be in disarray and without a coherent strategy to win the nomination. He was especially disturbed to find the Dole campaign so weak in the South, where Brock said that "we are well behind."

In the first phase of what is expected to be a major campaign restructuring, Brock announced Monday that Chicago businessman Bernard Windom will become his deputy to manage day-to-day operations.

Brock, in a luncheon interview, told reporters that Dole will retain his Senate leadership post for the time being, partly because it highlights the fact that Dole "is involved in the process, in contrast" to Vice President George Bush, the leading candidate in the GOP presidential race.

But Brock said that "the time will come" when the decision whether to continue as both a candidate and the Senate GOP leader "will be mandatory." Brock conceded that it would be "extremely difficult" for Dole to indefinitely serve in the Senate leadership post, with all of its demands for his time, while campaigning for the nomination.

Campaign Distraction

While Dole and most of his advisers have agreed that he should keep the leadership post as long as possible because of its high visibility, they concede that it also distracts from his campaigning. During his first week as an official candidate, for example, he reportedly spent much of his time on the campaign trail telephoning his Washington office.

Brock, a former senator from Tennessee who resigned as labor secretary to direct Dole's campaign, said that he and Dole have discussed the problem but that the senator has not yet made a final decision on giving up the leadership post.

In addition to naming Windom as his deputy, Brock also named political consultant Skipp Watts, who has been working part time for the Dole campaign in Vermont and Maine, as political director. William Lacy, who had served as campaign director, was named to the lesser role of vice chairman and director for strategic planning. Mari Maseng will be campaign press secretary. She was communications director.

Two to Get Lesser Roles

Brock said additional staff changes will be announced later. Although no one is expected to be fired, at least two campaign officials--political consultant David Keene and Donald Devine, former head of President Reagan's Office of Personnel Management--probably will be offered lesser roles.

In answering a question, Brock said another political consultant, Kenneth Reitz, who managed Brock's campaign when he unseated Sen. Albert Gore Sr. (D-Tenn.) in 1970, probably will work with the Dole campaign. But Brock said Reitz would not be in a high-level position because he is working on "two or three campaigns for the Senate."

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