|SECOND LADY HOPEFUL|
August 15, 1996
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mrs. Kemp, thank you very much for being with us.
JOANNE KEMP: It's a pleasure to be here, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Your husband gives an important speech tonight and written profiles about him say that you've helped him with both the content and tone of speeches over the years. Have you helped him with this speech?
JOANNE KEMP: There's not been time for me to even look at this speech. I have no fears, it'll be the same things he's been talking about, but how it's put together I don't even know.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What do you hope he can accomplish tonight?
JOANNE KEMP: The same thing that I hope the party and this presidential campaign of Sen. Dole's will accomplish, which is to present to the American people a positive course for action for making the lives of all of us better, more growth and opportunity for all people.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What role will you play in the campaign?
JOANNE KEMP: We haven't really had time to talk about exactly the extent of the travel that I will do--I think I'll mostly travel with him. I may do some trips on my own, but I don't--the logistics we've not yet talked about.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: When you saw Mrs. Dole last night on the convention floor, her entire speech, did you think, oh-oh, am I going to be expected to do this too?
JOANNE KEMP: No, I didn't. I didn't, because Elizabeth Dole is wonderful at being able--and she's done that during this whole campaign season, and she is able to go--she loves going out amongst the people, which is a wonderful thing for her to do. She's also very good at a formal speech. She can do either one because she's been in public life for a long time as, as a public official. And she's trained as a lawyer, and, no, I don't--I am who I am, and I will be very happy to just do remarks occasionally but not formal speeches.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, let's talk about who you are and where you came from. Where are you from? You're from a small farming town, aren't you?
JOANNE KEMP: Yes. A small agricultural community in Fillmore, California, which is in Ventura County.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Not too far from Los Angeles but out of the big city.
JOANNE KEMP: That's right.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What did your parents do?
JOANNE KEMP: My father was--started out as a schoolteacher and a football coach, and then he became vice principal so that when I was in high school, he was the one who was in charge of all the discipline problems. I didn't think that was so cool. But then he became superintendent, so my father was the superintendent of schools in Fillmore.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Were they Republicans?
JOANNE KEMP: Yes, they were.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You met Jack Kemp at Occidental College. How did you meet?
JOANNE KEMP: We met through a classmate of mine. I think it was a friend who was in Biology class with me who was a fraternity brother of Jack's. And I suppose maybe Jack had told this fellow that he would like to date me, so he sent his friend as an emissary to see if I would go out with him.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And when you were married, he was a Christian Scientist, right?
JOANNE KEMP: Uh-huh.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But he became a Presbyterian which you were?
JOANNE KEMP: Um-huh.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How would you describe the role of religion in your lives now?
JOANNE KEMP: I would say our faith is very important to me and to all of our family, which is, you know, it's a great joy to see our grown children putting faith central in their lives as well. And so we have a very faith-based family.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Are you a born again Christian?
JOANNE KEMP: Well, I consider that to be like stuttering. I'm Christian. That's like if you say born again, that's a Christian.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mm-hmm. How much do you discuss politics together? Have you always--the articles about the two of you say that you've--you've been a very close adviser behind the scenes, very close, is that true?
JOANNE KEMP: I believe that probably is true. I haven't said that, and I don't know if Jack has said that, but I think anybody who knows us would say that we, you know, whenever we go anywhere, issues are discussed, and I--I'm pretty knowledgeable. I don't know all the details. I have a general knowledge, but we do discuss issues a lot, and we love it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Did he discuss with you his recent decision to back the California ballot initiative that would exclude the children of illegal immigrants from public schools, something that he opposed until just the last couple of days?
JOANNE KEMP: Well, yes, we had many discussions on that. I grew up in Southern California, so I was very aware of the situation, and both of us feel that immigration is one of the wonderful aspects of our country, and we should encourage as much legal immigration as we can because out of many people have come to America for the benefits of freedom, yet, the federal government has a responsibility to make sure that illegal immigration is not allowed, and having grown up in a Southern California community that was a large proportion Hispanic, I know that it is only one generation.
After families come to this country, in one generation they are--I know a friend of mine was the mayor, you know, he and his family came from Mexico, and he went to high school with me, and now, well, a couple of years ago he was the mayor.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But I've lived in those little towns too. A lot of those kids in school were children of illegal immigrants, farm workers who'd come up and it was the only way they could make a living, and some of these kids did stay and do very well, but those are the kids who won't be able to go to school.
JOANNE KEMP: Well, I believe that's in the courts now because that legislation passed, so the courts are going to have to determine how to take care of it. I think that personally and hopefully we as Republicans will be seen as caring about these people and recognizing that the welfare system cannot handle a huge, huge influx but it can, if the illegal immigration is stopped, then 10 years from now we will not have the problems that we have.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Jack Kemp has been quoted in the last couple of days as saying, “I will be Jack Kemp. I'll still be independent, but I will support Bob Dole publicly, and if I disagree, I'll disagree privately.”
JOANNE KEMP: Mm-hmm.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Is that going to be hard for him?
JOANNE KEMP: No, not really, because Sen. Dole is wonderful. I really think this is a measure of a great man to want to have discussions of issues, and he's a--he's been tremendous in making it clear to Jack that is what he hopes they will have, is a dialogue on the issues.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But he's so voluble, it won't be hard for him to keep any--keep disagreements private?
JOANNE KEMP: Well, they--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I'm just thinking as a person it must be tough for him.
JOANNE KEMP: I don't--I believe he is aware that his role is back up quarterback now and truthfully I think he's really enjoying that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You have a statue, I've been told, in the window of your home in Bethesda, Maryland, a statue of Don Quixote.
JOANNE KEMP: Oh, that's a long time ago. We have re-decorated.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Oh, it's gone, huh? I just wondered if Jack Kemp sees himself a little bit like Don Quixote.
JOANNE KEMP: For a while we did collect Don Quixote statues, and--he has been out there sort of crying in the wilderness at times, but, umm, no, I don't think so. I would hope that he's considered a leader and a strong leader.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, Mrs. Kemp, thank you very much for being with us, and good luck to you.
JOANNE KEMP: Thank you. It was nice to be here.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Thank you.