Scott Morgan and Scott Richardson, former Dole staffers.
Interviewed May 1, 1996
FL: What it's like to work for him?
It's probably true of any employer, I think you don't realize what he's like
to work for until you've left the job and are working for someone else and you
realize how extreme a person he was to work for. And I mean that in both the
good sense and the bad sense.
He's incredibly demanding but yet, he's one of the easiest people to work for
because he's incredibly smart. And you don't have to produce as much, you just
have to be able to filter it down and provide it in short two, one minute
blasts and he will understand it better than you do who has spent months
studying an issue. I mean it is remarkable.
My extreme case--when I was on the Senate Judiciary Committee as a staff member
of the subcommittee for which he was chairman, we were doing an investigation
of this horrible adoption scam, of baby selling and it was not a pleasant thing
and we were investigating it trying to get to the bottom of it. We had spent a
couple of months really looking at it, having a number of sort of informal
investigations, talking to people, trying to collect things, we're going to
have a big hearing to talk about it, but we're having a press conference first
before the hearing. And there were all these cameras and I had been trying to
really kind of sit down with Dole because I was fairly new for him at that
point and I really wanted to spend and hour or two going over the finer details
of this thing because it was national press.
And l couldn't get in, and looking back I realize that was ridiculous, nobody
spends two hours with Bob Dole. Finally it's the day of the press conference,
I still haven't gotten in to him and all I've got back are these few cryptic
notes on a memo shot back at me and I'm sitting outside his office waiting for
him to come out and I think, "Well I can at least explain it to him." And the
time I get to explain what I've been spending two months on is the time I have
when I leave his office with him to go to the press conference which is
probably 75 yards away. And all the while he's greeting people and saying,
"Glad to see you." and all this good stuff and then he goes in to the press
conference like, as I said, he's been doing it for months. So, that's
rewarding, it's frustrating, it's very scary but...
And he gets everything right.
He gets everything right. And you're just sitting back and wondering how you
Both of us, this was our first job really out of college. When I started
working for Dole I was 21, the summer of '78 and then went to work on his staff
straight out of college in 1979. And it was the first place I had worked
other than McDonalds and as a Resident Assistant in the dorm....But when I was
21 and basically a clerk, go-fer, on one of these judiciary staff, I could
send a memo in to him. And I remember one time I sent a memo in to him--
Wichita State puts on a jazz festival every year, so I wrote up a congressional
record statement because I happen to like the Wichita Jazz Festival and sent it
in to him and put it on his secretary's desk. And he put it in the
Congressional Record and from then on I would just send him a memo on anything
I wanted. That was kind of how I got to know him. And it didn't have to have
anything to do with judiciary committee issues. And the other thing that might
seem unusual about it is that I don't think I cleared them with anybody, I just
sent them in directly to Senator Dole.
FL: Other ways in which he was sort of at ease in the way it all ran?
I used to travel a lot with Senator Dole. There's a misperception.... he's
been around so long that I think people naturally think they kind of understand
what he's like. And a lot of times I think when people have perceptions like
that the basis of some of that is correct. I mean he is smart, he's a very
strong man, he can be very imposing, he's big, tall, dark, very deep booming
voice, but the idea that he's like always barking orders at people and always
blowing up and real cold and mean and everything, I don't think if you talk to
very many people that had actually been around him would say that's the case at
In fact he never blows up at anybody. I was there six years. I never heard
him blow up at anybody. He hardly ever cusses. He doesn't ever just berate
anybody in front of anyone. But he can be real focused and intense when he's
at the office which is at the Capital. When you travel with him, and I often
went in the car with him heading to National Airport at the last minute
because he always will wait until the very last minute so he can just barely
catch the plane, we'd be driving off and you could actually see him relaxing
under the 14th Street Bridge and he'd start joking around on the
way to the airport. And in the whole time traveling with him, he'd be very
mellow and laid back and joking around, almost everything he said would be a
After the whole time you're gone, and then you'd get back and he would kind of
get back into the serious work mode. And he'd be working on the road and it's
certainly grueling and all that. But I think he takes his job so seriously
that he seems much more intense when people are watching him than he can be at
times. And he certainly can be relaxed and fun actually.
That quiet harshness, or whatever you want to call it though, it is remarkable.
I think most people think of Dole as having this incredible temper that just
blows up because I've seen a couple of things on TV where, "Stop lying about my
record" or whatever. And this just builds up it's own folklore. And his anger
is there. But it is just so intense, until you've been under it you don't
really know what it feels like. But there are no words involved. I mean
everybody has it.
[Here's] my Woody Woodpecker story--I'm sitting in for some reason.... But I
had sat down in your office, of all places, and was just kind of vegging out in
the middle of the day and flipped it around and there was a Woody Woodpecker
cartoon on, which I happen to think is very good. And I was sitting in
hysterics at his desk while he's over trying to work and this is this little
office, and I'm over in the corner in hysterics and Dole opens the door. And
I'm just kind of sitting about three feet away from this Woody Woodpecker thing
just laughing hysterically.
Well, most people think Dole would blow up, lose it and I would be shrapnel on
the wall or something. Instead, he just kind of looks at you and in that
moment when I see my life flash in front of my eyes, I realize he's not
going--death isn't imminent. My career may be over but instead I have to get
up, walk in front of him, go excuse me...
Turn the TV off.
I turned the TV off. I didn't want him watch it if I'd left. You just
realize that when you get that glare, it said everything you needed to know
about the man.
He never mentioned it to anybody.
And you go on living. But I think most people think Dole would have just lost
it. Dole is a very controlled person. You can't really do it both ways with
Dole or you slam him for being emotionless and then at the same time saying he
loses control. He doesn't. He is consistent that way. He is contained
whether it is good or bad. And it is a very quiet but deep anger that comes
out at you if you've done something that deserves it.
But it's not just anger. He's very emotional guy. I saw Senator Moynihan was
quoted recently I guess on one of the talk shows and they asked him, "What is
Dole like personally?" And Moynihan said, "He's a very sweet man." Something
like I don't use that often to describe a man, but he's sweet. That isn't
necessarily the word that would come to mind talking about him, but understand
what he means because there is a sweet element to Dole, a real playful element.
But here also is, just like that "quit lying about my record" type where he,
type of occasion when he blows up, or in 1976 when Ford took him back to
Russell and he was just talking and he broke down. That's, I think, real Dole.
And I think the wisecracks and the constant joking. The way he thinks that is
constantly funny. If you're with him and you're not working or he's not at a
committee meeting or something, every single thing he says is funny. It's
amazing. I've never seen anybody like that.
I remember going out of the Capital late one night, it was probably about
eleven o'clock, for some reason, I don't know why I was there that late, and I
wouldn't have usually been there that late but I was that night. And we were
in the car and everyone he sees at the Capital was "Hey Grassley, Ed! Working
late! Working late!" And everything he says has some kind of a humor to it.
And usually its almost so funny that you think about it later. He's like a
great comic I mean it's one of the real strong elements of his personality.
It's not like he tells jokes. He actually thinks funny.
FL: What does this humor say about him? Some examples.
Off the top of my head I'm not coming up with a joke, but I do remember an
instance when the first couple of years I was working for him....we were at a
speech in front of a group of doctors, or some trade association over like at
the Hyatt or something in Washington. And it was in the evening and he always
would open with a couple of jokes and they would be very timely and they would
be things that he thought up. I mean occasionally he might be given a joke
but not very often. I think he really would come up with these jokes and if
they were good he would kind of hone them and just keep using them but a lot of
times they were just pure reactions to what was happening that day. They'd be
that timely. And these guys, he got them going and it was hysterical. And I
remember at the time, it would have been around 1980, I remember thinking,
"He's like Johnny Carson" . And in a way he is like Johnny Carson, not Johnny
Carson's maybe not the best example, David Letterman or Jay Leno or one of
these guys who toured for years doing standup routines and got their twenty
minutes down and learned the timing and all that. He's really that good.
Especially at these speeches that he gives three or four times a day,
sometimes, in Washington.
And this one, it was incredible. And literally people were roaring and
screaming and laughing. I remember specifically, he didn't really talk about
anything that was happening, he didn't bring up any issue that he wanted to
talk about, didn't bring up any of his stock stuff about tax policy or
whatever. He just told jokes this time and they were just roaring. They were
screaming and shaking hands as we left and we went out and got in the car and I
said, "That was just incredible." And he said, "Yeah I had a little bit to
drink, and doctors..."
Not him, the doctors.
They had a little bit to drink. And he said, "I knew they'd be an easy
audience." And it was obvious he had decided that there was no point talking
about issues to these guys. And he just got rolling and he went and did the
jokes and took off. And I asked him, "Did you work on this a lot or is this
natural for you." And he said that he had worked on it a lot and he had worked
hard to learn timing. Probably along with everything else, because he had to
speak a lot when he was a young congressman. So I think it's actually
conscious that he worked on it. I'm sure he was a funny guy as a young man,
but that's, and he really does, I mean it's him. He doesn't have a bunch of gag
writers. I mean he'll occasionally, if it's a Gridiron Dinner or something,
but basically it's him.
It's sort of hard to come up with a specific joke or something because he's
always funny. It's not the words that make it funny, it's the delivery. He
knows how to work off crowds. I think mainly it's the sign of a quick, bright
mind that can read people when he [is] talking to them. I'm not sure it's much
deeper than that, it could be but I think it's just that he's a smart man that
likes to be funny and likes to watch people react that way. I think he does
certainly use the humor sometimes to deflect the attention from him directly,
to deflect praise from him. I mean that's probably more meaningful when you
use it in that sense. But when he's talking to a crowd he's just being funny.
And that's just an odd side of him.
But when he's deflecting attention from him or using self-deprecating humor, I
guess that goes back to the whole Kansas thing that you don't want the
attention focused on you and just standing there and acting like you deserve
because that's not the way you do things. You do the right things but you
don't expect to get great praise for it and when you do it's an awkward moment.
And I think he uses humor as a defense then and uses it very effectively so
that people don't think he doesn't remember his place, which is sort of funny
when you realize where he is but I think he's still remembering that he's a boy
from Russell, Kansas a lot of the time.
He's one of those guys also that is so funny you can't hardly make him laugh.
And most people don't try because you can't really keep up with it and so
they're just kind of listening and laugh and go on. And I remember one time I
had come up with a joke after the 1984 election when Reagan swamped Mondale and
there was already the Dole-Bush rivalry was back under way. And it was evident
that these were going to be the two guys vying for the '88 nomination. So I,
so Dole was in a position where he was at once supportive of Reagan and he was
Senate leader so he was getting asked about the election, but not wanting to
say too much that would help out his Vice-President, Bush, these things are all
kind of subtle, and it was four years away and you kind of thing about that
stuff. So for some reason everyone was talking about the "Reagan mandate" and
I came up with the idea that maybe it wasn't so much of a mandate maybe it was
more of a "mondate." And so I thought this was pretty funny and so I was going
with Dole somewhere during the middle of the day and I remember we were in
Georgetown on Canal Road. And Dole, even if somebody else was driving you'd
sit in the front right seat and he'd sit in the back and kind of look with his
hair down and everything and I was thinking, "Should I tell him this joke?"
And I actually thought it was pretty good and it kind of makes the point and
all that. And I finally said, "Senator everyone keeps calling this election a
mandate. Maybe it's more of a "mondate." And he's going "mondate." And he's
kind of looking out the window.
That was like Friday, and then on Sunday he was on David Brinkley I think and
he used the joke which was amazing because he had never, probably ever used
anything like that that I had ever suggested before. And it got a pretty good
reaction. And on Monday it was in Time. It might have been
Newsweek, but say it was in Time, they quoted him saying it. This
is an example of his playful, prodding kind of thing that he likes to do to
people. That morning when I saw him he said, "Heh your "mondate" line didn't
get much pick-up." And I said, "Well Senator, it was in Time." And he
was storming down the hall and he said, "Wasn't in Newsweek." That's
FL: What was the routine on that he had developed in the '70's, that just told
his life story......
I tell the very end of it. There's a build up to it. Well he goes out to a
radio station and he does a radio interview and it's to hype up a campaign
appearance by some congressman in Indiana or governor candidate or something.
So Dole goes out and gets in the car and somebody's driving and turns on the
radio and the announcer's saying, "Congressman Bob Dole," I think he says, "is
going to speak tonight in Freedom Hall. They're going to give away a color TV,
but they're not going to do it until Dole, I think he says," gets done
talking. And in order to get in, you have to pay $10, that $10 for a contest.
Dole is from Kansas. Prior to World War II he was a pre-medical student at
University of Kansas. Suffered a serious head injury in the war. Then went
And every night before the "suffered a serious head injury during the war"
there would be just a long pause. And I swear to god I think a lot of people
in the audience had heard the story ten times before and knew what was coming
and so the pause worked even better and it would just basically bring the
house down every night. And probably three or four times a day for about five
years in a row.
FL: For that long.
And he had the bear joke before that. In '76 there was a story, I don't even
know what the joke was, it was the "bear joke" and finally towards the end of
the campaign, somebody else should tell this story because I wasn't on the '76
campaign, but the press started chanting "bear joke, bear joke, bear joke" when
he came out because it was the exact same thing. It was a really funny, good
joke that he told every night that they just got tired of. I don't know what
his joke is now. He's got to have something.
FL: You were talking about the difficulty of becoming close to him. You
were just finishing up the story about the...
I was just talking about how it's true. You don't get close to Dole. And part
of that may just be generational, that he's so much older than his staff for
the most part and...
And he's kind of held in awe.
He was famous when we all went to work for him. I mean he's been famous for
decades. You don't go to work for someone like that and all of a sudden become
pals with him. And it's not really what your looking for and it's certainly
not what he's looking for. So from a staff standpoint it's what you expect and
from a staff standpoint you get what you expect I guess. But I worked for
another Senator from Kansas, Nancy Kassenbaum, who you call Nancy, I mean she's
very friendly, very warm and after a small break I went to work for Dole and
you would never dream of calling him Bob. I mean he's Senator, and always will
be Senator until maybe he's President. Even then I don't know what I'd call
him. He, it's just different personalities. What it means, I don't know.
He's just always relied on himself and it's what makes him strong. I'm sure
from most peoples standpoint that's also is maybe a weakness or a fault. That
you should be warm with people but he's happy in his world. Is it the kind of
happiness that I want, no. But is it the kind of happiness that he wants,
yeah. I think he's created the world the way that he wants it. He, it's one
of those things that never bothered me. It's not like he was this cold person
that I just felt, it made no sense that he was cold. It made sense that he
would be distant. And because it always made sense I never really tried to
FL: Let's talk a little more about the way he works.......
You don't go there searching for warm, fuzzy comments. You're going to be
remarkably disappointed if you go to work for Bob Dole thinking that it's
going to be a real good warm feeling. It's proper to describe him as distant
not cold. Because there were ways he let you know he thought you were doing a
good job. Or that he, and they would be real cryptic, but you would learn the
code, learn the language. You'd see the little TY on a memo, scribbled in
there with his hand and it would mean thank you. And you'd get all excited and
show people that you got a memo saying thank you on it. Which sort of sounds
pathetic, I guess, from a normal standpoint, but within the realm of having
worked for Dole you realize that was his way of saying you're doing an o.k.
job, that you're doing a good job or whatever, keep it up.
And so, we weren't just depraved starved people clinging for our identities
through Bob Dole. We all had lives well beyond Dole. I mean not everybody I
guess, but enough of us did that so it wasn't that sort of sick situation. It
was just this is how Dole operated, you came to work as an adult, you expected
to be treated as an adult and you handled it that way. And but it did take a
little bit of getting used to and from an outsider's standpoint it is bordering
on the bizarre I suppose. But it is the way Dole works, and it's better that
he operates within what he really is, I suppose, than trying to be, I just
can't imagine him trying to be warm and fuzzy, it would hurt to watch.
He can be warm and fuzzy with people he doesn't know very well or with
constituents, or with old friends in western Kansas. That seems to be a little
bit different for him. But if you're on the staff you're working for him.
You're not supposed to be a friend. You're supposed to be an employee. You're
supposed to work as hard as his dad did. And you're supposed to get there
early, and on time, and do your job and not waste his time. And if you're
somebody who does waste his time, then those are the kind of people he can be
very cold to. And he would storm by them and he just didn't have time to talk
to them. I remember there were times he would go out of his way to in the best
way he could that he thought you were doing a good job. I remember doing the
Reagan inaugural week. I was working around the clock, and he was doing
receptions and we were doing all this stuff and he went out of his way to take
me and another staff guy over to end up his apartment so that he could give us
some tickets to go to some inaugural gala that he couldn't care less about
He wouldn't do it in a way, he wouldn't put his arm around you, or kid around
with you or hug you or anything like that, but in whatever ways he could he
would let you know that you were doing a good job. And a lot of the way he
would let you know was by letting you be around you all the time. Because what
people want when they're around a guy like Dole, any Senator or Governor or
anybody else, is face time. And basically if he was comfortable with you, you
got a lot of face time, and if not, you didn't.
I can believe it. I was with him once in New York. We flew up to give a
speech at I think it was a Forbes or Fortune dinner honoring some really big
time Wall Street executives. It was a really big deal at the Waldorf-Astoria
and he was the main speaker. And we flew in a private plane and we get picked
up by a sedan and driven into Manhattan and somebody meets you at the front of
the Waldorf and takes Dole in to give his speech. When we got to the airport,
there was nobody there to pick us up. And it just seemed odd because they
really needed to get him there to do the speech and we couldn't find the person
and he asked me to go down and look on another level. So I looked all over the
place and finally I found some guy down there with Senator Dole on a cardboard
and the wrong place. And when I went up to get Senator Dole he said, "He's
going to think we were in the wrong place cause we're from Kansas." And I
remember thinking, "I don't think so." I don't think anyone thinks Dole isn't
smart. People may hate his politics or may think he's mean or whatever, but I
don't think the feeling is that the Senator, Chairman of the Finance Committee
who is coming in to give this speech, is dumb. But I think anyone has some
kind of a thing about where they're from and that does get back to the Western
Kansas thing. I'm sure there's a little bit of that. I'm sure he was in the
army with people who were rich, and you know Bush types and that kind of thing.
And it's still there. And no matter how sophisticated or worldly, or how many
world leaders or popes that he meets with and presidents, and if he is the
President of the United States, there probably still be just a little something
in there that he assumes somebody from Yale or Princeton might think they are
smarter than he is. And they can't be.
FL: This is something the writers from Kansas talk about, this sense of
inferiority a little bit. It's a sense that you can fly over, but don't come in. Does that ring any bells
Oh, yeah. A whole lot. You're from Kansas, you're used to the Toto jokes. I
mean that's all anybody can ever tell you once you leave the Midwest and it
kind of wears on you a little bit. And in a way it was always kind of
refreshing to see it in Dole, that he still had that, I mean, it gets back a
little bit to what you were saying earlier Scott, about how people from the
East think they understand Kansas and they really don't and people from Kansas
know they don't really understand until, they've gone, the East or the West
coast, or something. I mean, Kansas is an odd place. It's right there in the
middle and it is flat and there's, it's not real bad, it's not real good. I
happen to think it's a great place to raise a family, but there is that part of
you... I can remember showing people my drivers license just to get a reaction
out there. And I guess I always liked the fact that you could see that still
in Dole. It's sort of odd. Why doesn't that leave a person after a while?
Why don't they get it.
But it's there and in a way the good side of it I guess is that it makes you
humble, there's always a part of you inside that knows you are not the absolute
best in the world, or makes you think that I guess, because other people are
going to be thinking ill of you because you're from this podunk Kansas. And
it makes you a little more, we're all supposed to be a little more close to the
earth out here. But you got to be close to it because you keep knocking
yourself down cause you're from Kansas. We're all happy, we're just all
hitting ourselves all the time. I, you do see that in him when he's meeting
and hobnobbing about I guess.
FL: The vision thing. Why do you think he has such a difficult time expressing
what he wants to do. This is a theme that has been running through the last 15
I think part of it is that his vision a lot of times is what needs to be done
today. And if you map out something that tells somebody real clearly, or even
have an idea, that goes beyond the problems of today or this week, then you've
locked yourself into something that may not work three weeks from now. And I
don't know whether that's conscious or not, but you never show your cards when
you're negotiating with people. And his whole career he's been negotiating and
he's really good at it. But it doesn't necessarily translate to a great
visionary idea, or exactly where the country should be going in a big way. I
don't think he's faking it, he's not like hiding it. He doesn't have something
that he's not telling people. I believe he thinks he's answered that question
a thousand times. But he's running for a political office and in his mind,
what he says in June it may not make any sense in November. And so it has
never made sense for him to lay out sort of a broad picture so you would know
exactly where Bob Dole stands. It's never going to change, it's always going
to be there and it's going to take him all the way to the White House. Because
if he does lay it out and then he tries to change it later, it's going to look
like he's vacillating instead of that he's changed his mind or whatever.
A little of it's probably the Kansas thing again. Look at where he grew up. I
mean it wasn't an area that lends you to grand dreams of glory and all these
wonderful things. You're dream was if you were a farmer, your vision, was that
you planted the crop, you tended the crop, you harvested the crop, you spent
your winter doing whatever it is you needed to spend and then you started over
again. There's not a completion to it, you just took care of things, you did
the right thing and in a lot of ways that's what his vision is. You do the
right thing. Which is you get done what needs to be done now.
But it doesn't resonate with people. They want you to paint a picture of what
the world will look like in four years after they've installed you as President
of the United States. But to him, what he, you grow up thinking, and of course
the war injuries and all of that, his thing was to get better, to get back to
life. It was just one step at a time. So his vision is one step at a time, do
the right thing. That's not defending it, or saying it's right or wrong, I
just think that's a little bit of it. It's just not a land that lends itself
to glorious dreams. Although a lot of people come from it and tend to do
pretty well. You sort of think the big dream picture gets a little tiring
after a while, just do it I guess. He's the originator of the Nike ad.
FL: Why does he want so much to be President?
Because it's the next job available. And he is reasonably qualified for it.
And he's healthy enough to run for it, and there's no way in hell that he's not
going to run for it. When he was running for majority leader in '84, I had a
lot of reporters who would ask, "Is he really going to run for it?" And there
was a lot of question about whether he would run because it is such a hard race
to win because it's internal and it doesn't matter how famous you are.
Popularity polls don't mean anything if you run for majority leader. It's all
internal politics, and nobody can understand. Reporters don't know what's
going on in those meetings and nobody else does either. So Dole couldn't
predict whether he was going to win or not. He could easily have lost that
race. And because of that people would naturally think, "Well, he's not going
to risk that if he wants to run for President sometime cause he might lose
this." So we got asked a million times, "Is he going to run?" And it never
crossed my mind that he wouldn't run because Baker was retiring. He was
Chairman of the Finance Committee and he had a shot at it. And hell, yes he's
going to run for it. And each time since then that there's been an open
Republican nomination, he's gone for it.
And it's because he believes that he's as qualified as anyone who's been
President and he's known them all since Eisenhower, or at least he's had
exposure to them. Some of them he's known quite well. He meets every
constitutional criteria and he's a reasonable candidate. And I don't think
it's much broader than that.
It is kind of amazing that every politician who wants to run for President
knows that you are supposed to be able to answer that question. And year
after year, every time they ask that 'vision' question and hardly anyone ever
has an answer for it. And the guys that are supposed to have the answer for it,
because it's been beaten into their heads, "Well you never have an answer for
this question." -- Ted Kennedy and Dole are the two that come to mind and
they're not the only ones. It's still just really difficult to answer. And I
think one reason that those questions are so difficult to answer is because,
dammit, you're, everybody's telling him he's got to have an answer for this.
He is running things and if he doesn't want to answer it the way you want him
to, he's not going to and he cannot bring himself to fake it. And to come up
with something, and it should be easy to come up with three or four lines that
he would memorize, and he certainly could do it and he's memorized speeches
before. And anyone could do that.
And maybe there's a little stubborness in there. But I think he finds it
phony cause it's not natural to him and it's now become something I think he
feels, he's just not going to do it. He's just not going to give everybody
what they want which is some little three or four line really nice sounding
visionary statement that doesn't mean anything because he doesn't know how that
would help him if all of a sudden the communists take over Russian again and
they threaten the borders all around them and he's got to go face to face with
the new President of Russia. And I think to him, he's a problem solver. What
was that he said in the book?
FL: I'll just show up and serve my country.
Not the worst vision in the world.
FL: Tell your story of how everything went wrong......
Well, the first year I was working for Dole, I was one of the guys that would be
called a driver. You're supposed to go drop him off at events or something
like that so he can get in and out of events real quickly. Another guy that
was working there was the same age, Ed Stuckey, and so Stuckey and I were going
to go from the group house that we lived with him in 20 miles south of
Washington, go pick up Dole at National airport in Dole's car. We had taken
Dole's car because we had a suit in the trunk that he was supposed to change
into at the Watergate. He was supposed to literally fly in from Ohio, take a
shower, change clothes and we were supposed to pick him up in an hour and take
him back to the airport to fly to Oklahoma for a fundraiser or something like
that which sounds insane but that's what presidential candidates do. So we go
to the airport and I'm driving. Dole had this big ol' Oldsmobile or something.
I'm waiting for them at National and Stuckey goes in to find Dole. And Stuckey
and I are thinking, "My god it's Sunday. What are we doing here?" We were all
bummed out because it was going to take all day to do this ridiculous exercise.
So they come out and Dole's in a great mood. He gets in the car , "Hey, how
you doing?" and he's real happy and being real friendly. And Stuckey doesn't
say anything, he's just sitting in the back. We drop Dole off at the Watergate,
and go over to the Capital to pick up Stuckey's car and go back over and pick
up Dole and take him back to the airport. And after we drop Dole off I say to
Ed, "You know, it's kind of hard to get mad about working on Sunday when he's
in that good of a mood. He's real funny and joking around." And Stuckey
said, "Yeah, well you weren't in there at the airport with me. When he got
off the plane, I asked him how the trip went. And he said, `You always ask
that. It's tiresome and frustrating.' And immediately Dole felt terrible and
he said, `Would you go buy me a paper, please?'" And so Stuckey had gone off
to buy a paper, and Stuckey is just devastated. He's very imposing when he
talks that way. And he was I'm sure exhausted and miserable, and here's this
22-year-old guy with a big, stupid grin on his face, smiling and stuff and it's
just not what he needed. And so I'm thinking, "Oh god, this is great." So we
get to the Capital, I mean to the Watergate and I'm going up to the front desk
to have them tell Senator Dole we're here, and I realize that we don't have the
suit and when he gets to Ohio he's not going to have anything to wear. So I'm
thinking, "Oh my god!" There's not enough time for him to catch the plane, we
can't go back to the Capital, and so I just come out and tell Stuckey that I'll
take it, I'll tell him. But I say to Stuckey, "Why don't you go out and see if
you can hail a cab, and then we'll run back to the Capital and get the clothes
and go back to the airport." And Dole comes out and he's always just moving
real fast, and he's still in a really good mood. And he says, "Hey how's it
going?" And I open the door and I just said, "Senator, we left your suit at
the Capital.' And he just sort of looks at me and Stuckey's out in the middle
of New Hampshire just yelling for cabs, and there's not cabs around cause it's
Sunday. And Dole just looks at me and says, "No problem, I'll just get another
suit." And he turns around and runs back into his apartment, packs a suit and
finds another suitcase and gets into Stuckey's little, tiny Mazda, this $900
car that Stuckey had driven out to Washington in, and it's not nearly big
enough for a 6'2" guy, and Dole is sitting in the front, and could not be nicer
and just keeps going, "No problem. Nice buggy. How many miles this get about
35?" So we drop him off and once again he gets the suit, and he says, "No
problem guys. See you next week." He takes off and we're just going, "Whew,
boy that was o.k." And we're drive home and the next day and apparently Dole
had told somebody on the staff to call Stuckey and apologize. And had said he
felt terrible about it. Again, it kind of gets back to the coldness thing.
It's not the same thing as working for somebody where you would have a totally
open relationship, somebody your own age and sort of a collegial relationship
where you'd say, "What the hell were you doing? Why didn't you get that suit?"
But he does try to sort of deal with it in the best way he can.
FL: The David Owen story--were you present at the press conference that he gave
I was certainly part of it. That's the whole sort of odd thing about just
Kansas I guess. I mean I know Dave real well, I know his family real well. We
all knew each other, we were all trying to get through this thing, trying to
decide whether is there anything there? There wasn't as much there as people
think is I guess, but you're dealing with perceptions as being all important.
And I don't think that anybody handled it terribly well, but I think we all
handled it about as well as we could given the situation. But I talked to
Dave a couple of times during those two weeks, because I did know him. And
continue to know Dave. And you know Dole was in the middle of a campaign that
at that time he had a real good chance to win. This was prior to Iowa in '88
which he ultimately won and then came so close in New Hampshire. And so what
he had been working for his entire life was right there, and then all of a
sudden there's this scandal, one that involves Elizabeth Dole which he
absolutely does not want to be part of any kind of problem, and a person he had
considered a close confidante, I think would probably be the best way to
describe it, was in the middle of it. There was a no-win situation there.
You had to cut your losses as a campaign standpoint, and you had to try to deal
with personalities and egos at the same time. It was an interesting couple of
I guess if what people are looking for in the Dave Owen situation is, "Just
how does Dole react with friends or when things get tough?" In a way it's
sort of a bad example, but maybe it's the only example because there are just
so few folks who Dole, who people consider, as Dole's friends. I think in the
category that we put people in, I'm not even sure that Dave Owen falls into the
category of friend.
I mean, think about it. There's always the people from Russell who are clearly
in a different league. Who are true friends, who are people that Dole feels
completely different with. I mean there are other people who for some reason
or another that he can relate to, that he feels a certain closeness to, whether
it's disabled children or whatever. I know that always sounds odd with Dole,
but... Dave was someone who was a close confidante and I choose that word
fairly carefully. Dole certainly knew him well, relied on him well, and I
don't mean to distance themselves. I just think the nature of their
relationship is not what I think most people consider to be a friendship
relationship. But that's for them to decide, not me.
During the time, once Dole gets the news that there's a problem out there and
how Dole handles it, he decides he'd solve the problem. Here's the problem,
we're going to deal with it, we're going to cut it off and move on. And Dave
made some decisions, and made some comments and solved the problem to the best
that he can, dealing with whatever he's confronted with. And I'm not sure
because of all those pressures you really have a good situation on how Dole's
going to react. I don't know, could he have said it nicer? Yes. Should he
have done the same thing? Probably. Could Dave have handled it differently?
Well, we all could have. But, I don't know. Talking to both of them
throughout that time period, and actually I talked to Dave more than I talked
to Dole, it just, that's the sad part of any thing that Washington loves to
call a scandal is the human side of it. And just the way that you realize that
there are very decent people involved in it, and I guess from my personal
standpoint why I'm not the best person to articulate it, is it's such a
miserable thing for me to have gone through. And then of course it extended
well beyond that in other areas. But both people are decent people and Dole
didn't treat Dave as best as he could of and Dave didn't do some things he
should have done.
FL: Are you aware that Dole never called him after that?
Oh, everybody talks about that. Should Dole have called him? I suppose maybe
he should have, but it's not Dole. It's like asking him for his vision. Why
can't you give us your vision? Why don't you call Dave Owen. It's Dole. I
mean, you get what you got. And he's not going to make that call if it's
uncomfortable, if there's not a resolution, if he knows Dave's mad at him, if,
you know he will make the call occasionally, but that one according to
whomever, was not made. Elizabeth called Dave, but Dole didn't. And it's not
the way I would have handled it, it's not the way Dave would have handled it.
None of us handle it, I guess, the same way. But that is Dole. People should
not believe they get anything but what he is. And he parades it out there and
that's how he reacts to things.
FL: David Owen...was he important to Dole's career?
Dave did a lot of good things for Dole in terms of raising money, in terms of
helping run some campaigns. If not for Dave, other people would have done
that, maybe not as well as Dave but other people would have filled in. 'Cause
Dole would have still been Dole. That's ultimately what led to his success.
His success, it's not a but/for case. It's not but for Dave there would be no
Dave had a slightly special relationship with Dole in the sense that he was
like a super staff guy. He was never on the staff. He was lieutenant governor
and ran his vice-presidential campaign. He was competent. Dole often has
people that are sort of hot aides at any given time, he's got some that have
been in there thirty years, but a lot of times there's a chief of staff who for
three or four years is the person Dole goes to regularly on something and
becomes the hot guy. And Dave was sort of that around the '76 campaign. And
Dave was also a pretty strong character in his own right and was also a
politician in his own right. So he was sort of a little bit bigger than the
best staff director that Dole ever had. He was still quite a bit younger than
Dole, they probably never lived in the same town. They wouldn't have like gone
to a movie together or something like that, but he was there off and on pretty
regularly especially on political issues for a long time. But it's not, again
I don't know if as Majority Leader Dole operates the same way as he did before,
but I doubt if Dave or anybody else was advising Dole in the sense of do this,
do that. Sort of a friendly kind of where he would be more liable because
they had a special relationship as friends or something.
FL: He doesn't describe him as an intimate. He said, "I was with him for twenty
odd years. And made a difference in some of his campaigns." But he did feel
that in one campaign that he made an enormous difference. But that wasn't the
issue for him. The issue was why didn't Dole call?
Not to make it real mysterious or whatever, but I don't think it would surprise
people that Dole would also feel hurt in this thing. I don't think either one
of these people came out of it feeling like that it was a grand success. I
think Dole probably views Dave as having questionable judgment at times in
hindsight, in looking at some of the ways things were handled. That's not to
say that they were illegal or anything like that. But you're talking about
Elizabeth's money in a blind trust, you're talking about different consulting
arrangements, and all this is thrown at you in the middle of a campaign and you
react to it.
Six months later after it was all over should he have called? I don't know.
It's sort of hard for me to understand why Dave continues to focus on the lack
of a phone call or a belief that Dole is somehow trying to skewer him. I mean
I don't think, just in the conversations that I've had with Dave, I don't
understand why that is what... But I guess if people want to view this as
showing the Dole is cold and that he uses people and once they become a
liability, he jettisons them, and does so without mercy, you can read it into
it. If you can read it as two people, not intimate friends but as people who
are close, and a big problem arises and they deal with it as best they can and
go separate ways and it doesn't reflect on either one's moral makeup, I mean I
think that's another interpretation of it and that's the one I sort of view
just having been so close to the whole thing. I mean I'm closer to Dave
personally than I am to Dole. It just is an unfortunate situation that doesn't
reflect on either one of them in terms of their moral makeup, it just to me is
how two professionals deal with a professional situation. It wasn't a
friendship situation it was a professional situation.
It was the kind of relationship where they would go years not speaking. Even
during their twenty year period. And when they would get together, Dave would
call him Bob and I was there a couple of times. One time we flew into Kansas
City and they hadn't spoken for probably a year. This was when I was working
for him and nobody knew why or what had happened. And Dave picked us up at
Kansas City airport and took us to dinner and they got along great. And I
never did find out if they hadn't, or if there was any reason or anything. But
it's not unusual that they wouldn't speak for a long period of time.
FL: One last question. Can you wrap up some of the complexities you mentioned
that make him so fascinating?
I think Dole is a really great man. I use that not in the sense of good or bad,
just great in the sense of larger than the rest of us. He's interesting once
you get up close. And once you get up close all the little nicks and bruises
that make everybody so interesting are just magnified so much so. And Dole is
a remarkable case of that. He is filled with contradictions. As I think we
all are, if we were ever looked at as closely as these people are.
I think Bill Clinton must be fascinating when you study him. These are just
men, or women if it's a different situation, that have, but with Dole, he has
gone to great heights, but he still thinks of himself as this kid from Russell,
Kansas. And that is the contradiction that we all live with, who am I and
when is the curtain going to come down and people are going to realize that I'm
just Bob Dole from Kansas. That's not a failing to me that's just what is
fascinating about him. He is reserved and held back but yet he doesn't want to
be alone. He is very stern and has this image of being very serious and dark,
and yet he's one of the funniest people you'll ever meet. I mean he also makes
jokes all the time. He is a very simple man in a lot of ways and yet he has
been an enormous success. And I just think it would be remarkable boring to
have somebody in a leadership position that didn't have those kind of
contradictions because we all have them. And I just think a person who has them
and is aware of them is a lot more vital as a leader and that's what I find
FL: To what extent do you think those contradictions are rooted in his war
Everyone whose been around him a long time will tell you that every serious
psychological question you have about Dole has something to do with the fact
that he was in a body cast for three years or whatever it was. You know that
happened to him when he was like twenty-two years old. And he's 72 now. And
it's been over 50 years. And it has very little effect I think on his day to
day life. I never saw any indication that he was in constant pain or horribly
uncomfortable. Certainly he would want to eat so that his left hand is
available, so he'd want to be on a certain side of the table. But he moves
very quickly, he learned to write with his left hand. I think one reason it
doesn't seem like he's real emotional when he talks about it, or it doesn't
seem like he's opening up, or he doesn't talk about it enough, is because he's
already dealt with it.
I guess I agree with a lot of that. I mean he's complex, but whenever you run
into these complex or fascinating people, you want answers to them. And you
want something nice and neat that explains why they are what they are. And the
fact is that you are made up of all the different life experiences you ever
had. And he, of course the war injury is an enormous one to him, but I think
his only reference point to that is what he's had in his life. And for 50
years he's had that in his life and I think he has dealt with that. Is it why
he is the way he is? Certainly it has a part of it. It's like if you go to a
different college that makes you a different type of person, or if you go to
college at all. For him in his early twenties he had this enormous experience
just like so many other people in his generation did, if they weren't wounded
at least they had the war experience. It affected every one of them. And it
changed every one of them. But I don't think it is just an ongoing demon
sitting on his shoulder yelling in his ear, yelling this or that or whatever
and making him all that much more complex and foreboding. I just think it is
part of him, it affected him and made him very dependent upon himself. It made
him look inward for his strength. I think anybody who's had a tragedy in their
life does that whether it's the physical one or the family one. He dealt with
and moved on, changed because of it, but he did move on 50 years ago. And I
think you can look too deep for that answer.