The Magazine

The Quarterback in the Big Game

Jack F. Kemp, 1935-2009.

May 18, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 33 • By NEWT GINGRICH
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I have always wondered what would have happened if Reagan had picked Kemp to be his vice presidential nominee in 1980. Kemp was from upstate New York and would have brought regional balance. He represented an appeal to blue-collar conservative Democrats rather than an effort to reach out to moderate, more affluent voters.

Kemp was a true believer in tax cuts, in a strong national defense, and in a Republican party that actively sought to improve the lives of every American. He liked to point out that as a football player, he had been in locker rooms with more minority Americans than many Republicans had met in their lifetimes. Kemp had a natural desire to be a good shepherd and seek a wider flock. He would have been a great vice president in 1980 and a growth and inclusion-oriented president in 1988.

As it is, Kemp changed history more than many presidents. Working with Reagan, he ushered in a tax-cut revolution and an understanding of entrepreneurial economics that changed policies in dozens of countries.

After Barack Obama's high tax, big-government, politician-centered model of trickle-down bureaucracy fails, and its $9 trillion debt brings on inflation and economic disarray, it will be time to dust off Jack Kemp's speeches and educate Americans once more in the virtues of growth and opportunity that he devoted his life to.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is the author, along with Jackie Gingrich Cushman, of the forthcoming book, 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours.