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Kemp Courts Women for Republican Presidential Ticket

October 1, 1996

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Jack Kemp reached out to women voters Tuesday with a promise that four years of a Dole-Kemp administration would bring them a larger, after-tax income.

``I would pay the highest respect to women by suggesting to them that they have the same stake in a growing, expanding economy,″ the Republican vice-presidential nominee told women at a Jewish community center.

With women voters leaning heavily toward President Clinton, the GOP ticket is trying to win them back by promoting Bob Dole’s plan for a 15 percent tax cut. Kemp hosts another women’s roundtable this week in Stamford, Conn.

Closing Tuesday’s hourlong event, April Fenton, one of a dozen questioners, told Kemp she didn’t know whom to vote for in November.

``I would like to know, as a woman, how will I be better off four years from now voting for you in November than I would be voting for Bill Clinton,″ asked Fenton, a mother of three and the wife of a homebuilder.

Kemp responded that interest and tax rates would be lower and that income after taxes would be higher. Then he added, ``I can’t promise Nirvana. I can’t promise the moon. I can’t promise something that I cannot deliver.

``But you’re going to have a president and vice president who will work for the type of peace that you can expect in a post-Cold War world (and) unemployment will be lower than ever before,″ he continued.

``That is what we want for America and I would imagine that’s probably what you want for America and your family,″ Kemp said.

Standing in front of patriotic bunting and signs that said ``Talk Back to Jack,″ Kemp fielded questions on topics including adoption policy, underage drinking, education, defense and economic development. He was joined by his wife, Joanne, their son, Jeff, and Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Kemp resisted repeated attempts by his wife, Mrs. McCain and others to end the questions after his rambling responses threw him off schedule. At one point, after both women stood up behind him to signal that he should leave, Kemp told them: ``I’m not leaving until I answer every question.″

Reaction to Kemp among women in the audience was mixed.

``He reassured me because I feel that Dole and Kemp have not been speaking forcefully enough,″ said Beatrice Boire, a senior citizen from Tucson who said she planned to vote for the Republican ticket in November.

But although Eugenia Hummel said Kemp was ``pretty honest and pretty forthright,″ the self-described independent said Clinton and Vice President Al Gore deserve another term and that she planned to vote for them.

She expressed disappointment with Dole, who retired from Congress in June to focus on running for president.

``Dole’s been in Congress for 30 year. Why hasn’t he made some of those changes himself?″ Ms. Hummel asked.

Kemp said changing the tax code comes first. Second, he promised to spend ``every waking minute″ in the White House designing a welfare system that measures compassion ``not by how many people need food stamps ... but by how few people need food stamps.″

He also pledged to end the ``outrageous″ marriage penalty on couples who file their income taxes jointly, and on welfare mothers who risk losing their benefits after marrying.