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Forbes Tries And Fails To Get Kemp Endorsement _ Again

March 5, 1996

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Steve Forbes’ presidential campaign suffered a blow Tuesday when a long-sought endorsement from former housing secretary Jack Kemp failed to materialize _ once again.

Forbes had telephoned Kemp, a former Bush administration cabinet official, on Monday night, just before a visit to Kemp’s hometown of Buffalo, in an effort to enlist him formally in the campaign.

New York’s primary, with 93 delegates at stake, is on Thursday.

But at a downtown shopping area where he went to meet voters, Forbes told reporters Kemp had not come on board. ``I don’t know whether he’s going to endorse a candidate,″ he said.

Former Sen. Gordon Humphrey, a Forbes supporter who has been traveling with the candidate throughout New England, said he was perplexed because Forbes is a Kemp protege, and got into the race only after Kemp declined to run himself.

``I don’t know what explains Jack’s conduct, except so far he’s not been forthcoming,″ Humphrey, a New Hampshire Republican, said as the Forbes entourage left Buffalo for a bus tour across New York.

``I’m very disappointed in him so far.″

A spokesman for Kemp was not immediately available. Both Forbes and Dole have been courting Kemp’s endorsement but he has remained neutral thus far.

In the stop at a downtown market and at a breakfast with about two dozen environmental engineers, Forbes repeated his campaign mantra of economic growth through tax relief. But he seemed tired, occasionally garbling the syntax in his normally automatic delivery, and crowds were polite but not enthusiastic.

``I like his idea of a flat tax, but the 17 percent rate is not realistic,″ said Roy Tilghman, a construction manager attending the breakfast. He said he identified most closely in ideology with Dole, but added: ``I don’t find a clear favorite in the candidates the Republicans are putting up.″

And Richard Cooper, a 71-year-old retired General Motors worker, went away mad after he said Forbes ducked his question about school prayer. ``He has turned me off. That is a very important issue,″ Cooper said.

Forbes hoped against the odds to win one or two of the states in Junior Tuesday primaries, with Colorado and Connecticut his top prospects. But he and his aides were looking ahead to New York, and even beyond to next week’s Super Tuesday with its mother lode of 362 delegates.

He pinned his hopes on television advertising buys which so far have continued to feature positive messages on his flat tax. In addition, Forbes plans a half-hour call-in program on Wednesday in New York City.

The campaign also was counting on a two-day bus caravan to draw local media attention in areas that should see heavy GOP turnout on Thursday: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and the Hudson Valley.

``There’s a long-term perspective here,″ Humphrey said. ``The conversation is, what’s the best way to get to California,″ which selects 165 delegates on March 26. ``We’re not talking about the last hurrah. (New York) is not a stopping place for us.″

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