Calling Bob Dole a hero, Jack Kemp scolded fellow Republicans on Sunday for appearing to abandon Dole in his “moment of need” to focus on keeping control of Congress instead.
Kemp’s displeasure came amid indications that some GOP leaders have written off Dole’s chances of catching Clinton and are shifting attention to protecting the Republican majority in Congress.
Kemp expressed “disappointment with some of my Republican Establishment friends,” calling it disheartening “to hear that some Republicans would run away at this moment of need for a man who has been a hero his whole career.”
GOP leaders appearing on the Sunday news programs insisted that Dole could still win. Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, on “Fox News Sunday,” compared Dole to New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, who brought his team from two losses back to win the World Series Saturday.
Donald Rumsfield, Dole’s national campaign manager, said on CNN’s “Late Edition” that Dole is narrowing the gap, still double digits in most polls, and “the race will end up being a few points either way.”
Barbour was one of the GOP leaders who first openly expressed doubts about Dole’s chances last week when he told reporters that electing Dole president was “not our only priority.” Others, including Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, have complained the Dole campaign has been poorly managed.
Republican candidates, Democratic National Committee general chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said on ABC’s “This Week With David Brinkley,” “are clearly distancing themselves from the Dole campaign.”
Republicans also continued their attacks Sunday on Clinton’s ethics record, repeating their criticisms of Whitewater, the White House access to FBI files and Democratic acceptance of large campaign contributions from foreign nationals.
But White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, on CNN, discounted GOP attempts to find scandal. “We’ve gone through four years of these allegations … and yet nothing has come of that.”