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ELECTION '96

Kemp in GOP Country to Bolster Get-Out-Vote Drive

November 04, 1996|MARC LACEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Jack Kemp reached right into the living rooms of two Orange County voters Sunday, and it wasn't through a television ad.

Visiting a phone bank at the campaign headquarters of Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), the GOP vice presidential candidate picked up a telephone and urged two local Republicans to get to the polls Tuesday to elect Bob Dole to the White House.

As he pitched the ticket to two women plucked randomly from GOP voter logs, Kemp had little to worry about. Both had been planning to vote Republican even before they unexpectedly got Dole's running mate on the line.

Like the phone bank, one of a number set up around the county, Kemp's mission in California these days is to convince the faithful that the race is still winnable and that their votes could be the critical ones in unseating President Clinton.

Shirley Aikman of Garden Grove was in the kitchen preparing lunch when the phone rang. The next thing she knew she was chatting with Kemp and his wife, Joanne.

"He was easy to talk to," recalled Aikman, a lifelong Republican who said she admires Kemp. "I got all excited. I got all cold--then all hot. It was quite something to be talking to the next vice president."

Aikman's husband was in the next room watching a football game when she was talking with the former quarterback of the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers. His reaction: "Really?"

Kemp brought up football himself when he talked to a second voter, Mary Davis.

"Watching football?" he asked. When she said no, he responded: "Good heavens. That's un-American. It's a holy day. The Buffalo Bills and the Chargers are playing." (The Bills played the Washington Redskins and the Chargers played the Indianapolis Colts.)

When Davis said she had just returned from church, Kemp said, "Good. That's more important."

In fact, Kemp had just returned from church himself.

After a grueling day of campaigning Saturday that took him from Orlando, Fla., to Irvine with three stops in between, Kemp rose early Sunday to deliver a sermon to the mostly Latino congregation at Templo Calvario in Santa Ana.

Peppering his remarks with Spanish, Kemp strayed from his partisan stump speech to urge the several hundred congregants to become involved in civic affairs.

"As Christians, we are often asked, 'How can you be a Christian and be involved in politics?' " Kemp said. "But we must really ask, 'How can you be a Christian and not be involved in politics and the political future of our nation here on the eve of a new millennium.' "

After leaving Orange County on Sunday, Kemp was stranded at the airport in San Bernardino by a power failure, forcing him to use a high-tech trick to address a rally at the next scheduled stop. The candidate called campaign officials in Santa Maria, who then held a cellular phone up to a microphone, allowing the crowd to hear Kemp's voice.

Kemp is scheduled to return to Orange County tonight.

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