Barbara Coe, an Orange County-based activist who was a key organizer for Proposition 187, said: "Jack Kemp will be an albatross around Dole's neck. Kemp has done immense damage to this country by his attitude towards illegal immigration."
Kemp's selection clearly fulfills at least one important criterion that Dole has been promulgating for months: that the choice be a surprise. Kemp was not on the "short list" of prospects that the Dole campaign had developed over several weeks, but he soared into contention over the last few days.
But the choice violated another criterion: that Dole must be comfortable with his running mate. One reason Kemp had not figured in the initial speculation was that he and Dole have long history of rocky relations.
Kemp is a forceful champion of stimulating economic growth through reducing taxes. But Dole, until this week, has been an acerbic critic of that approach, known as supply-side economics. Dole instead had preferred to cut spending and raise taxes to reduce the federal budget deficit. Even in proposing his 15% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates, Dole actually rejected the option Kemp preferred: a rollback of the 1993 and 1990 tax increases signed by Presidents Clinton and Bush.
During the 1980s, Dole and Kemp repeatedly clashed. In the 1980s, while Kemp was promoting tax cuts, Dole quipped that the thatch-haired politician was seeking a deduction for hair spray.
In a gesture aimed at reconciliation, Dole last year appointed Kemp to head a party commission studying the flat tax. But when Dole kept his distance from the group's final report and sharpened his own attacks on the flat tax during the primaries, Kemp grew increasingly frustrated.
Finally, Kemp endorsed publishing magnate Steve Forbes, the flat tax's chief booster in the GOP presidential race. The move came too late to help Forbes--Dole was clearly pulling ahead of the pack at the time--but it angered the Kansan. Even today some of Dole's senior advisors consider Kemp to be disloyal and uncontrollable.
Indeed, one GOP insider who has known Kemp for years said the downside to a Kemp selection is that "he is quite full of himself, and he has this little history of kind of being a lone ranger, not particularly being a sensitive team player. He regularly bad-mouthed George Bush when he was his Cabinet secretary and wasn't even discreet about it."
Until Kemp's name surfaced, the prominently mentioned finalists on Dole's list of potential running mates were a cluster of mostly governors and senators who might deliver a state but were relatively anonymous to the rest of the country.
High on the list were former South Carolina Gov. Carroll A. Campbell, Michigan Gov. John Engler, and Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Connie Mack of Florida.
Others contacted by the Dole search team included Govs. Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin, Jim Edgar of Illinois, George Voinovich of Ohio and Thomas J. Ridge of Pennsylvania. Some Dole aides pushed for former Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Friday morning, in clipped answers to reporters' comments on his campaign plane bound for Kansas, Dole said he "just about knew" by bedtime Thursday whom he intended to tap for what could be the most crucial decision of his campaign.
"Oh, yeah," Dole said, when asked if he had reached a decision. "I went to bed and slept pretty good . . . because I just about knew."
Campaign manager Scott Reed talked to Kemp on Thursday night and then again on Friday; Dole at the time was making an emotional visit to Abilene, Kan., the boyhood home of former president and fellow Kansan Dwight D. Eisenhower.
According to Warfield, Reed, in the first conversation with Kemp, "posed the question that has been offered to each of the contenders: 'If the offer was forthcoming, would you accept it?' Jack Kemp indicated that he would."
The second chat was a "kind of take-your-temperature, see-where-you-are sort of update conversation," Warfield said. "There were good vibes from that conversation."
Standing beneath a three-story hackberry tree in front of the white clapboard house where Eisenhower grew up, Dole delivered a nonpartisan speech in which he pledged to continue the unfinished work of his "commanding general, political hero, military hero."
Dole added: "I don't see any reason why we shouldn't add another presidential library to the Kansas landscape."
Once in Russell, he spent a part of his afternoon along Main Street. He and many residents called out to one another by first name, often exchanging physical expressions of fondness that Dole does not typically exhibit on the campaign trail.