Senator Clifford P. Case


"I started out a Republican," said the Senator. "I came from a long line of Republicans. They gave me an office, and I have a very strong feeling that I should remain one of them." But New jersey's is a Republican of a particular son. He belongs to a group of Easterners who have found the Republican party congenial not for its ideology but for its personality.

At the mention of the Democratic party the members of this group see a montage of ward heelers and ward bosses, cigars in mouths, poker hands on the table. For when Case, Rockefeller, Scranton, and Lindsay entered politics, the Democratic party in the northeast--despite its noble patriarch Franklin Roosevelt--was dominated by Catholic immigrants, largely Irish and Italian. Its supreme symbol was Alfred E. Smith. Case, a minister's son and the descendant of an old family, chose the Republicans.

When he says, "No people are good enough to run this show by themselves, nor wise enough," he states his conception of modern Republicanism. The party, he believes, should not have "to come up with a different broad ideology." Instead it should be a stable "of good candidates who are ready to meet the issues" and the Democrats. To use a newspaper analogy, the Republicans should be what The Herald Tribune is to The New York Times--in content the same, different primarily in style and approach.

Republicans in Congress, he believes, should perform the role of a loyal opposition with the Democrats on broad issues but at the same time criticizing their failures. Long an exponent of Congressional reform, he wants his party to fight for a code of ethics. "We haven't scratched the surface about Bobby Baker," he said.

The Senator seems very remote from any political stereo-type. He is no glad-hander: as he gave a radio interview, he stared constantly at the table or his cigarette or gently rubbed his eyebrows, and only rarely looked at his interviewers. Later when he addressed a larger group, he appeared at ease--but never excited, never given to rhetorical flourishes. At times, as he answered the endless questions about the future of Republicanism, he seemed a tolerant New England prep school headmaster-patiently explaining what he had explained so many times before.

The candor that has marked his political career also jars with the usual image of a politician. When he first ran for the Senate in 1954, he disregarded the advice of the professionals and attacked Senator Joseph McCarthy. Branded by some members of his own party "Stalin's candidate," he won by the narrowest margin in New Jersey's history. When Sherman Adams was under investigation, Case bluntly advised his old friend to resign; they have never communicated since.

Like other Republican liberals he has never been an organization man. Not that he has contempt for professionals: he favors "the old pros" like Ohio's Bliss ("he's done quite a job") for the leadership of the National Committee. But he feels that theirs is a service function, "not a policy making one," and policy is the area he obviously prefers. He enjoys the Senate less as a legislative factory than as a forum where he can say what he believes and be heard.

But now he, like Kuchel in California and Javits in New York, faces pressure to give up his seat to run for governor--an office that has the patronage necessary to nourish the party organism. He does not want to run, as he cannot "see the obligation." But he refuses to make a categorical disclaimer. Clearly his uncertainty comes from a fear that unless the moderates set the policy and hire the servants, 1964 might be repeated.

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