Tras ocho años de era Reagan, el Partido Republicano afrontó estas elecciones con una sensación de orfandad ante la marcha del líder, y lleno de luchas internas. Los más radicales del Conservative Caucus amenazaban con su intención de separarse del partido, cuyo aparato tradicional aplaudía en silencio esa posibilidad, al tiempo que intentaba desplazar a los cachorros reaganautas, y distanciarse de los excesos de una década cargada de ostentación.
Así, el escándalo de los predicadores fundamentalistas en 1987 fue utilizado para desacreditar la campaña presidencial del pastor Pat Robertson en las filas republicanas, al mismo tiempo que los desastres económicos del último año de la era Reagan (el lunes negro de 1987 en Wall Street) se convertían en arma arrojadiza contra el cada vez más apagado aspirante presidencial Jack Kemp, congresista por Nueva York y portavoz de los suply-siders, considerado durante muchos años como el heredero natural de Reagan.
El aparato del Partido Republicano se preparó de ese modo para elevar a un candidato moderado y vinculado al Congreso, como el Senador Bob Dole, jefe del partido en el Senado, cuyo único opositor serio, el poco atractivo Vicepresidente George Bush, con el vital apoyo de John Sununu en New Hampshire, logró finalmente imponerse en los rounds decisivos de las primarias de marzo con su promesa de no subir los impuestos.
Aunque el Vicepresidente Bush podía contar con importantes apoyos del aparato del Estado, su escasa simpatía de imagen y su limitado calado en las bases más conservadoras (anti-Washington), planteó serias dudas sobre sus posibilidades aunque tuviera ya a finales de 1987 un interminable programa.
Bush buscó la identificación con el legado de Reagan, aunque se distanció de la agresividad de sus políticas al prometer una nación más amable, "kinder, gentler". También quiso reflejar su voluntad por impulsar un cambio generacional en la élite política cuando escogió al joven y desconocido Senador Dan Quayle, de 41 años, como candidato a la Vicepresidencia.
Un auténtico bombazo que hizo que a muchos en el partido se les cortara la respiración cuando vieron a aquel rubio Senador aceptando su nominación con un discurso y un estilo más propio de un vulgar presentador populista de una televisión local. Aquel chico no estaba preparado para el Prime Time de las televisiones nacionales.
Los principales aspirantes republicanos que presentaron su candidatura a la nominación aquel año fueron: el Senador Bob Dole, de Kansas; el ex Gobernador Pete DuPont, de Delaware; el ex Secretario de Estado Alexander Haig; el Congresista Jack Kemp, de Nueva York; el pastor evangélico Pat Robertson; y el Vicepresidente George Bush.
Fuentes: Wikipedia, Union Leader, Policy Counsel y Time
(...)In 1988, after nearly eight years as Vice President, Bush again ran for President. Vice President George H. W. Bush had the support of President Ronald Reagan, and pledged to continue Reagan's policies, but also pledged a "kinder and gentler nation" in an attempt to win over some more moderate voters. Also in the hunt in 1988 was U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who had competed with Bush and Reagan in the 1980 primary, and who was on the losing 1976 ticket with President Gerald Ford.
Two other conservative hopefuls were in the field: U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp of New York and the Rev. Pat Robertson, a televangelist with a national audience and the beginnings of what would become a potent new political force - the Christian Coalition.
Though considered the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Vice President George Bush came in third in the Iowa Caucus, beaten by winner Senator Bob Dole, Senate Minority Leader, and runner-up Pat Robertson.
The flip side of Dole's Iowa victory was Vice President George Bush's defeat. Despite his status as Reagan's heir apparent, the advantages of office and more than $5 million in campaign funds, Bush finished a distant third, with a slim 19% of the vote. Pat Robertson, the former religious broadcaster who has never held public office, stunned the Republican establishment with 25% of the vote and a second-place finish, emerging as a powerful and potentially disruptive force.
En la imagen: Bob Dole hace campaña en New Hampshire, 1988.
Senator Dole was also leading in the polls of the New Hampshire primary. Some New Hampshire conservatives remained distrustful of Bush. Many had been shocked by Reagan's 1980 selection of Bush as a running mate after he had battled Reagan for the GOP nomination, calling his tax-cutting plans "voodoo economics." Bush was also opposed by The Union Leader, whose criticism was unrelenting, despite his having appeared as featured speaker at a Washington, D.C., tribute to the late William Loeb, the newspaper's longtime publisher. Loeb had called Bush a "wimp." Eight years later, the newspaper had not changed its opinion.
After a failed attempt to convince U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick to seek the nomination, The Union Leader endorsed former Delaware governor and congressman Pierre "Pete" DuPont.
But George Bush had the backing of New Hampshire's governor, the wily Gov. John Sununu. Dole was leading in the polls in New Hampshire, but Bush, meanwhile, had worked hard after his Iowa setback. In one memorable scene, the patrician vice president drove a forklift truck at a Nashua business. The Bush camp responded Dole by running television commercials portraying Dole as a tax raiser. These efforts enabled the Vice President to defeat Dole and gain crucial momentum. Bush won New Hampshire Primary with 59,290 votes to Dole's 44,797. Kemp was a disappointing third at 20,114, slightly ahead of DuPont and Robertson.
"I think if it hadn't been for his false advertising the last three days, we would have beaten him," Dole said on primary night. In a tense notional TV interview, an anchorman asked Dole if he had anything to say to Bush, who was also on camera. "Tell him to stop lying about my record," Dole snapped. But Dole had not helped himself by refusing to sign an anti-tax pledge.
"Thank you, New Hampshire," exclaimed Bush in his election night victory speech, with Gov. Sununu at his side. "I think you just don't like being told what to do," Bush told New Hampshire voters in his victory speech. "I think you listen, judge and then decide to do what's right, and I'll never forget it."
En la imagen: George y Barbara Bush hacen campaña en Illinois, 1988.
Senator Dole's loss in New hampshire Primary slowed his momentum and he was not able to recover. Vice President Bush defeated him again in South Carolina. Once the multiple-state primaries such as Super Tuesday began, Bush's organizational strength and fundraising lead were impossible for the other candidates to match, and the nomination was his.
The 1988 Republican party Convention was held from August 15 to August 18, 1988, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Leading up to the Convention, there was much speculation as to Bush's choice of running mate. The second spot on the ticket was not publicly known before the convention. Bush chose James Danforth "Dan" Quayle, U.S. Senator of Indiana, as his vice-presidential running mate. The revelation of Quayle's selection as running mate did not come until the second day of the convention, when NBC News broke the story. This decision was criticized by many who felt that Quayle did not have enough experience to be President should something happen to Bush.
Many republican politicians were mentioned as Bush's possible running-mate: Governor George Deukmejian (R - California), Representative Jacke Kemp (R - New York), Senator Alan Simpson (R - Wyoming), Senator Bob Dole (R - Kansas), Senator Pete Domenici (R - New Hampshire), Governor Lamar Alexander (R - Tennessee), Senator Nancy Kassebaum (R - Kansas), Governor James Thompson (R - Illinois), Senator William Armstrong (R - Colorado), Attorney General Dick Thronburgh, and Senator Malcolm Wallop (R - Wyoming).
So where did Dan Quayle of Indiana come from?
Dan Quayle came from one of George Bush’s first supporters in the country, somebody who got on Bush’s bandwagon very early when he began running against Ronald Reagan in 1980. That particular individual was Governor Bob Orr of Indiana. It was Bob Orr’s idea that Quayle would make a splendid Vice President. He was young. He was articulate. He was full of life and everything else. This got sold to Bush by Orr, a trusted individual.
A parade of would-be Veeps coming hat in hand would be demeaning, so Bush primarily communicated with the candidates through the relatively inexperienced Robert Kimmitt, who was in charge of the background checks. Kimmitt was under firm instructions to share most of his findings only with Bush. Thus, despite the broad-ranging search for a running mate, the most vital information of all was in the end filtered through a two-man channel.
Bush, who was worried about his party's right wing, had hoped for consensus, but there was none to be found. The week before the convention, Bush asked his top advisers to list their three favorites for Vice President: none of the seven lists agreed. Bob Dole and Jack Kemp, both tested in the primaries, were obvious selections, but within the Bush camp they also inspired impassioned pleas of "anyone but Dole" and "anyone but Kemp." Their political prominence was also a disadvantage; Bush did not seem to want a running mate who had a strong independent record of his own. In contrast, Quayle's career had the virtue of leaving too light an imprint to arouse enemies.
Monday afternoon, just hours after the convention opened, Kimmitt reported to Bush that the background check on Quayle was complete and that nothing very adverse had been found. What remains unclear is why Kimmitt failed to discover the pulling-strings-to-get-into-the-Guard problem. Was it Kimmitt's negligence, Quayle's deceit or just the explosive mixture of an inexperienced questioner and an overly vague Senator? Two Bush insiders complain in almost identical words, "We don't know for sure whether Quayle lied to Kimmitt. That's the bottom line."
Tuesday morning, just before boarding the helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base, Bush told his top advisers that he had made up his mind, but he refused to tell them who it was. The Vice President had decided on Quayle without ever questioning him face to face; Bush had faith in Kimmitt and the process. On the two-hour flight to New Orleans, Bush discussed the timing of the announcement with aides. There were rumbles from New Orleans that both the delegates and the press were growing restive over the now tedious game of "I've got a secret." Bush was particularly concerned about putting the losing contenders out of their misery.
Bush confided first in Ronald Reagan, whispering Quayle's name to the mildly uninterested President when they crossed paths at Louisiana's Belle Chasse Naval Air Station Tuesday morning. Most of the Bush entourage learned of Quayle's selection at the home of the air-base commander. There the decision was made to announce the choice that afternoon, but only if Bush could personally notify all eleven semifinalists in time. He did. The last call was to Quayle, and Bush effusively told him, "You are my choice, my first choice, my only choice."
The 1988 Republican Convention was perhaps best known for Bush's "thousand points of light" speech accepting the nomination. Written by Peggy Noonan, it included the "read my lips: no new taxes" pledge that was the most popular sound bite coming out of the convention. The successful speech gave him a "bounce" that he was able to capitalize on to win the 1988 presidential election. (...)
* Video del discurso completo de George Bush en la Convención Republicana de 1988 (Real Player).
* Video del discurso completo de Dan Quayle en la Convención Republicana de 1988 (Real Player).
En la imagen: los matrimonios Bush y Quayle en la Convención Republicana, Nueva Orleans, 18 de agosto de 1988.