RUSSELL, Kan., Aug. 10 -- Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole Saturday officially introduced former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp as his running mate, calling Kemp a 'man of unlimited talent, energy and vision, an American original.' Kemp immediately put the Democratic Party on notice that he and Dole 'are going to be asking for the support of every single American.' Kemp said they want to make it 'unambiguously clear ... we want to represent the whole American family, no one will be left behind and no one will be turned away.' 'I don't believe there's a higher honor than the one Bob Dole bestowed on myself and my dear family. It is with a keen sense of determination and confidence in our ultimate victory that I accept the challenge and the trust of running on Bob Dole's ticket for vice president,' said Kemp. Saturday's introduction of Kemp to a large crowd of hometown supporters in front of the Russell Courthouse was anticlimactic as Kemp's selection became known Friday. But the dated news and the sprinkle of rain did not deter the several hundred Dole supporters who greeted their favorite son in front of the same courthouse in which Dole worked as a young attorney in the early 1950s with cheers, balloons, bunting and fireworks. 'There's no place I'd rather have as my last stop on the road to San Diego where the Republican Party will nominate a son of Russell, Kan., to be the president of the United States,' said Dole.
'Twenty years ago Gerald Ford stood on this platform in front of the courthouse and introduced his choice for vice president. I'm here today to introduce my choice for vice president, a man of unlimited talent, energy and vision, an American original: Jack Kemp.' A handful of loyal Republicans in the crowd sported hot-off-the-press Dole/Kemp '96 buttons. Dole, to be nominated officially at the GOP convention in San Diego next week, said he has been looking for a '10' level running mate to help him catch up to President Clinton in the polls. 'I was looking for a number 10 and I found a 15, which was the number Jack Kemp wore when he played football for the Buffalo Bills ... 15,' he told the cheering crowd. Dole said his mission for running for president 'is to give our nation a new birth of freedom, starting with a balanced budget (and) an historic across-the-board tax cut for every man, woman and child in America.' Kemp, long an advocate of supply-side economics, said, 'I'm especially excited about Bob Dole's own proposal. But our final goal is even bolder. This is just the beginning, this is just a down payment on true reform, reorganization and renewal. 'Bob's vision is to start with a blank slate, create a fairer, flatter, simpler tax code that will carry us into the next century, and into unimagined prosperity in our children's' future.' A new poll, to be published in Newsweek magazine to hit the stands Monday, showed 27 percent saying they would be more likely to vote for Dole with Kemp as his running mate. The survey, conducted Thursday and Friday among 761 registered voters, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. For months speculation has swirled around the Republican Party about who Dole would, or could, pick to help his campaign that continues to trail Clinton in the polls by about 20 points. Kemp ranked second among 11 potential GOP vice presidential candidates, behind retired Gen. Colin Powell, who was favored by 45 percent. Charlie Black, a Republican campaign adviser to Kemp during his 1988 run for the presidency, said he thought Kemp would do a marvelous job playing the role Dole has in store for him as his running mate. 'Kemp has a long history of being a team player in the Republican Party,' said Black while he waited for the two men to emerge. 'He understands the sacrifices needed to run for the presidency and he's ready,' he said. * Part of Kemp's role will be to help Dole promote his economic plan, which calls for 15 percent tax cuts and a cut in the capital gains tax. Dole announced his plan on Monday in Chicago in hopes of pumping energy into his campaign. Kemp, long an advocate of the same supply-side philosophies that went into the scripting of Dole's plan, will likely serve as a major booster of the proposals. 'Kemp will be an enthusiastic supporter of Dole's economic program that will be the centerpiece of Dole's campaign,' said Black. Haley Barbour, chiarman of the Republican National Committee, said Kemp's 'ability to appeal to voters who have historically voted Democrat at the presidential level, including African-American and Jewish voters, will prove a huge asset to the ticket.' Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, who was himself courted by the Dole campaign as a possible running mate, said Saturday a Dole-Kemp ticket will get the support of Illinois residents. He cited Dole's Midwestern roots and Kemp's potential to 'reach out to different groups that normally don't embrace the Republican Party.' Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, another potential Dole running mate, said Kemp is 'a wonderful choice and a strong addition to the ticket.' He said Kemp 'has worked successfully to bring together people from all sides of many issues.' But Kemp drew immediate and negative reaction from others. Sen. Christopher Dodd, general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Dole 'was forced' to select Kemp. 'His own campaign was in such terrible shape, they resorted to choosing someone whose extreme views on the economy and on choice are out of touch with the mainstrwma of America.' Joe Lockhart, spokesman for the Clinton-Gore campaign, said Dole's selection of Kemp was a 'transformation from deficit hawk to economic gambler willing to bet our economic future on a reckless supply side theory.' The League of Conservation Voters said in a statement Kemp's selection should worry environmentalists. 'Voters who are worried about the recent erosion of environmental protections should be worried about the selection of Mr. Kemp,' said Deb Callahan, LCV president. 'As a congressman, Mr. Kemp voted against environmental protection nearly three-quarters of the time, and he was far worse in his later years in office.' Jim Guest, president of Handgun Control Inc., said Kemp's selection is 'an enormous disappointment to those of us who are concerned about gun violence in America.' People For American Way President Carole Shields said, 'The religious right should be delighted with Jack Kemp's selection,' while 'moderate and mainstream Republicans have got to wonder where to turn.' Shields said that during the 1988 presidential campaign Kemp 'actively courted religious right leaders and has endorsed their extremist positions on many issues.'