The Magazine

How Steve Forbes Can Win Big

First he needs to lower his sights and run for the open Senate seat in New Jersey

Sep 27, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 02 • By DAVID FRUM
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There's no disgrace in testing the water and drawing back if it's too cold. Reagan weighed and rejected a presidential run in 1968, and it didn't seem to do his career any harm. On the contrary, it's an unwillingness to run for anything other than the big prize that kills a would-be president's prospects. When Mario Cuomo sought a third term in 1990, New York Republicans begged Jack Kemp to oppose him. Kemp hesitated, and the nomination was instead scooped up by the eccentric economist Pierre Rinfret. Even so, Cuomo took only 53 percent of the vote. Where would Kemp be today if he had accomplished a stunning upset of liberalism's paladin nine years ago?

Of course, to make such a decision requires a rare set of qualities: astuteness, realism, boldness, self-discipline, and wisdom. Those, as it happens, are also the virtues Americans are entitled to expect from a president. Has Forbes got them?

David Frum is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of a forthcoming history of life in the 1970s, How We Got Here (Basic).