Nervous In San Diego

  • Share
  • Read Later
The contradictions have been building all week. Inside the Convention Center, bright placards, balloons and deliriously happy rally troops find every TV camera as speaker after speaker repeats the mantra of Hope, Growth and Victory. Everywhere are the strains of "I'm a Dole Man!" and "You've Got To Be A Football Hero" and everyone is on message, talking about going for the gold. But even as Republican luminaries prepare to pull out all the stops tonight when Bob Dole formally accepts his party's nomination, the sickly air of resignation seeping out of the San Diego gathering overwhelms the speeches and soundbites. In conversations with Republican leaders, the subtext is pessimistic. In the side comments they make, a picture emerges of politicians running for cover. Asked why, if Republicans have accomplished so much in Massachusetts, Bill Clinton is leading Bob Dole by 30 points, Governor William Weld snaps: "40." Asked how Dole can win California, a state that Clinton has courted, coddled and charmed non-stop, Governor Pete Wilson addresses Dole's low profile: "He ran for President before. Would you like to make a bet on how many people in this country know that? Or care?" What most people know about Bob Dole, says Wilson, is that "he's been in Washington for many years. That's not a winning platform." Says TIME Los Angeles Bureau Chief Jordan Bonfante: "Sounds like Wilson is thinking about running next time." Whether or not that is true, many GOP leaders seem focused now on doing the right thing for Bob Dole while covering their bases with the all-important contributors who are opening their wallets (the GOP gala late last night alone raised $10 million). Addressing a private gathering of big GOP contributors, former President Gerald Ford reminds them that while winning the White House is important, retaining control of the House of Representatives is absolutely imperative. The message behind the hoopla: don't let the guy at the top of the ticket do us too much damage in November. -->