A Change for DoleBob Dole made several errors when planning and executing his recentcampaign for the presidency. These errors eventually cost him the election, andallowed Bill Clinton to win a second term, despite Dole’s adherent belief that theAmerican people would not re-elect him. Bob Dole’s errors stemmed from hisinability to take advice from his campaign managers, his unwillingness to stickwith a consistent message throughout his campaign, and his inability to begin hiswar against the incumbent early in the election year. Bob Dole is an old-fashioned man of the generation on its way out ofgovernmental control. He is a man from an age before the intense rigors ofrunning a national election, before the multitude of spin-doctors needed toconduct a successful campaign, before the television era swept through thecountry forcing a whole new plethora of requirements upon candidates seekingnational office. Because of this Bob Dole is a man who wanted to run his electionas he believes is right, on his own terms, by his own decisions. He continuallyrefused to take the advise of wife, and his campaign advisors, allowing Clinton todiscover his huge lead in the polls and allowing Clinton to hold on to that lead. Dole failed to talk about values early in his campaign, instead deciding that “hewould talk about values, if that’s what it took.” Yet by making this decision, Doleresigned himself to speaking about values only when every other attempt hadfailed, making it seem like a last-ditch effort to ressurect his failing campaign. “This time around would have to be different from 1988. Dole would have todelegate responsibility and not try to run his own campaign on whim.” Dole wasdoomed if he tried to take too big of a hand in how his campaign was run, hefailed in 1988 when he tried it then, and he failed again in 1996 when he did itagain. Dole’s inpetness in the field of political campaigning on a national level isto be expected, that is not what he is paid to do, he is paid to create laws, and togovern, yet he took it upon himself to do a job that he was not suited for, and thatcost him the election. Bob Dole had a problem with reaching the American people. TheAmerican people respond well to repitition. By repeating a certain viewpoint, itshows that it is a viewpoint that one believes heavily in, and that one believes isvery important. By switching focus from one issue to another, it gives theimpression that one is grasping for some issue that will have some effect on theconsituency, rather than telling the people what is important from a leader’sperspective, it is asking them what is important while they are simultaneouslywondering the same thing. Bob Dole had this problem, for he switched the focusof his campaign multiple times throughout the campaign process. At first, hiscampaign had no focus, he was just there as the Republican alternative toClinton. He responded little to Clinton’s attacks, and showed no dashing visionfor America, nor any specific qualities that made him better then his opponents. Then he invented his 15% tax-cut plan, appealing to supply-side economicsupporters as well as to the public in general, in an attempt to attract the massivenumbers that tax-cut candidates have enjoyed in previous elections. When thatshowed only marginal results, focus was quickly moved to the fact that Clintonwas truuly an Old Democrat, not the New, more conservative, Democrat heclaimed to be. This had some truth behind it, but coming late in the campaignappeared to be more of a desperation attempt by Dole, and was dismissed easilyby thre Clinton campaign as such. Obviously focus was switched again when theOld Democrat approach did not seem to work, this time to the character issue.
This, following Bush’s 1992 desperation attempt at the character issue, appearedas the same thing, and the consituency had grown tired of hearing this. The lackof guidance towards the important issues, and the wishy-washy nature of theDole campaign allowed the focused and finely-tuned Clinton campaign to easilyattract many of the normal Republican voters to his camp, while protecting thestandard Democratic vote for the Clinton campaign as well. Bob Dole started the election year with a lack-lustre apporach to hiselection. He saw the oppurtunity to possibly win national office, decided thatthere were no other really good candidates for the position, and so he gave it the”old college try” one last time. Unfortunately the “old college try” is not goodenough to win the presidency, and Bob Dole’s failure to begin his campaign early,and follow through with a consistently strong campaign doomed him to lose theelection. Before the primaries even begun, Bob Dole failed to present the rest ofhis party with an idea of the issues that Dole would be running on to becomenominated, and then elected. This caused certain elements of the party to seekcandidates that were known for issues that the people felt needed to be takencare of, such as tax-cutters. These tax-cutters sought out Steve Forbes as apossible Republican nominee. While this ensured the tex-cut issue a place in theRepublican party platform, it also virtually added $22 million to the Clintoncampaign. This amount of money was spent soley by Forbes in anti-Dole adsabout Dole’s tax-increase tendencies. This money was spent in certain areas inhigh concentration in order for maximum effect on the number of delegates wonby Forbes, however when Forbes failed to win the Republican nomination, theseads effected normally Republican areas, and turned many of them to be anti-Dole. This heavy infighting amongst the possible nominees cost Dole greatly inthe general election, and much could have been avoided had Dole actuallyadvertised his convictions and his plans for his presidential run. In general, Bob Dole could have done much to change the electionoutcome. If he had given the Republican party his plans for his campaign, andprevented the harsh primary season, several states, such as Arizona, thatnormally vote Republican, would have given him their electoral votes instead ofgiving them to Clinton. If he had provided a clear, consistent message frombeginning to end, rather then scrambling for a new focus very often, Doleprobably could have carried states in which he seemed to be closing the gaprapidly in the last few weeks of the election, such as California and Florida. IfDole had allowed his campaign advisors to take control of his campaign, Dolewould have been in key areas speaking and campaigning, areas that might’vebeen vital, but not obviously so, to his success, giving him the needed boost topush him over the edge on electoral votes. Finally, Bob Dole also could’ve takenhints from Clinton’s campaign. Clinton ran on many Conservative issues tobalance out his liberal nature, presenting a more moderate appearance, andappealing to many Conservatives, where he was weak. Bob Dole also ran onConservative issues, places where he needed to tie back together the Republicanparty and preserve his core consituency. Bob Dole seemed to be defending histerritory, while Clinton was not worried about losing his liberal vote, as Bob Dolewas not threatening it at all. Without at least some of this liberal vote, Dole wouldfind it difficult, if not impossible to win the election. In retrospect, many thingsBob Dole should ‘ve done, and could’ve done to win the election, or at least tomake it come out closer, and perhaps allow the pick-up of more Senate andHouse seats, as well as definitively deny Bill Clinton the mandate from the peoplehe was looking for with this election.