Based on experience, regional appeal and campaign skills, Sen. Bob Dole is emerging as the early choice of top aides and advisers to Vice President Bush for the second spot on the Republican ticket.
Bush, who had locked up the party's presidential nomination, spoke glowingly of Dole Friday while stressing that the process for selecting the vice-presidential nominee will remain in the preliminary stage until after the Democrats select a ticket at their convention next month in Atlanta.Republicans hold their convention in New Orleans a month later.
Nonetheless, several advisers to Bush said senior aides have begun sounding out some Republican leaders on possible candidates, including Dole, the Senate minority leader from Kansas, and Rep. Jack F. Kemp of New York.
Kemp was regarded as the favorite of some Southern state chairmen in part because of the belief that he is more conservative, said a top Bush adviser.
Yet Dole, who ran second to Bush in most Republican primaries, appears to be preferred, at least by several of Bush's top aides.
Moreover, one close Bush associate said that the vice president, himself, has been praising Dole privately as well as publicly in response to his active campaigning and advice on how to respond to the drought.
Although he has not discussed choices, Bush has often described the type of vice president he is seeking: someone who is compatible, loyal, qualified to be president and experienced in foreign policy, or, as Bush explained recently, "another George Bush."
In Dole's presidential campaign, he argued his qualifications and experience, and in recent weeks he has been demonstrating his loyalty and compatibility.
Associates of Dole have recently described him as bored with the Senate, especially because the Republicans are in the minority.
As vice president, they argue, he would have a new platform for his legislative skills.
And if Bush lost, even a failed candidacy for vice president would keep him in the public eye and could set the stage for another run at the White House in 1992.
Aside from presenting Democrats with a chance to use in the fall the same criticisms Bush and Dole exchanged in the primaries, another drawback to Dole's selection could be concern by some Bush aides over Dole's temper, which has often flared when his campaign flagged.
For instance, this year Dole quarreled with Bush personally on the Senate floor, and accused the vice president of misrepresenting facts about his wife, Elizabeth Dole, a former Transportation secretary in the Reagan administration.