September 1996

page 13


What's with Bob Dole's dalliance with not-so-popular Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, who would probably not win reelection today? It's Ridge's [Roman] Catholicism, stupid, a faith that Dole and RNC strategists feel could swing the election their man's way. They are pushing Dole to pick a [Roman] Catholic for the bottom of the ticket.

According to a confidential memo to Dole approved by social conservative activists such as Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer, the [Roman] Catholic they like most for veep is Don Nickles, a three-3 term senator from Oklahoma with an impeccable conservative track record. The fact that he has a very low profile and doesn't come from a pivotal electoral state does little to dissuade his backers:

Though Nickles's name didn't make the short list until late July, he is closely aligned with the former majority leader, who is said to think highly of Nickles's political sense and felt comfortable working with him, a criterion Dole has set for his veep nominee.