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GOP Gears Up For Convention

ELECTION '96

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Gov. William F. Weld '66 is trying to make a name for himself on the national scene.

Cambridge Republican Committee Chair David L.K. Trumbull is coming along as a guest after narrowly losing an election to be a state delegate.

And Dr. David C. Dow '27 is simply in it for kicks: "I'm 90, I'm a retired physician and I have nothing to do."

They're an unlikely trio for sure, but they have three things in common: they live in Cambridge, they're Republicans and they're among the few city residents heading to San Diego next week for the Republican National Convention.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the three is Dow's. A longtime Republican who first voted in 1928 for Herbert Hoover, Dow has spent his life waging what he described as fruitless battles for conservatism in Cambridge.

Every two years, Dow would give money to whatever poor soul the Republicans were using as cannon fodder for the campaign of the unbeatable Democratic member of Congress, Tip O'Neill.

But Dow's contributions prevented the one-time speaker of the House from wreaking havoc on other Republicans.

"That kept Tip busy in Cambridge, in his district," Dow explained. "Over 40 years, I gave over $1,000 to keep Tip O'Neill at home so he wouldn't be racing all over the country helping other Democrats."

Dow's longtime loyalty to Cambridge Republicans drew the attention of Republican National Committee Chair Haley Barbour, who personally invited him to attend his first convention.

"He raised holy hell with me," Dow said. "He kept calling me on the telephone, writing letters, always.... After about six weeks of bombardment, I told him I'd do it. I couldn't stand the pressure."

Dow said he is optimistic about the chances of presumptive Republican nominee Robert J. Dole, despite polls that place the former senator 20 points behind President Clinton.

"I don't give a damn about those things," Dow said. "The fact is, it's the grassroots that count, not the polls.

Razor-Thin Defeat

Trumbull, one of the most politically active Republican in the city, lost his chance to represent the state at the convention by less than a hair's breadth.

Trumbull was a candidate to represent the state's 8th Congressional District at the convention. But he tied for the third and final alternate spot with William Monahan, chair of the board of selectmen in Belmont.

Since Monahan is an elected official and Trumbull is simply a party activist, state party leaders gave the nod to the Belmont resident.

Still, they invited Trumbull along as a guest of the state party, and he will have the same privileges as the delegates--except voting rights, of course.

But Trumbull isn't dwelling on it. He's excited to be in the center of the action.

"At this point, the convention is going to be very interesting--we had thought this was going to be a very boring convention...and now all the talk about the language of the platform is really getting people excited," he said.

Trumbull said he's never been to a national convention, citing the cost and time as deterrents. But he said he's looking forward to the political receptions, and the chance to meet fellow Republicans from other states.

He also defended Cambridge's turnout to the convention--with about 200 Massachussetts Republicans attending from some 350 cities, Cambridge will actually be overrepresented, Trumbull said.

Cambridge's third Republican convention-goer, Weld, could not be reached for comment.

Discouraged but Optimistic

Cambridge is an overwhelmingly and aggressively liberal city, so its few Republicans are almost by nature a hardy bunch.

Nevertheless, Cambridge Republicans interviewed had a hard time defending Dole.

Trumbull, for example, said he's viewing the party's bitter strife about platform language as a chance to "really get people excited...because something is actually going to be decided there, in a fairly open fashion."

But he conceded that the Republican infighting wasn't all good.

"Granted. When you get lemons, make lemonade," he conceded. "If we're going to have it, at least it shows we can have it. The other party can't have a discussion."

Some Cambridge Republicans are blaming the party's problems on Dole.

"I think he's making all the wrong moves," said Jonathan T. Spampinato, a Weld aide and former Cambridge City Council candidate. "I think he's moving farther to the right, and he is significantly diminishing the possibility that he will even have a respectable showing."

But on the whole, the Republicans said they were optimistic about the party and the candidate.

Cambridge Republican John L. Fitzgerald, for example, is looking forward to the infusion of cash Dole's campaign will receive once he's the GOP's official nominee.

After next week, for the first time, Dole and Clinton will be competing on level ground," O'Neill said. "Then people will finally get to see a real debate."

Trumbull agreed.

"Don't underestimate how much difference that makes, when you can control the message that gets out...instead of, for the most part, a very hostile someone else," he said

They're an unlikely trio for sure, but they have three things in common: they live in Cambridge, they're Republicans and they're among the few city residents heading to San Diego next week for the Republican National Convention.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the three is Dow's. A longtime Republican who first voted in 1928 for Herbert Hoover, Dow has spent his life waging what he described as fruitless battles for conservatism in Cambridge.

Every two years, Dow would give money to whatever poor soul the Republicans were using as cannon fodder for the campaign of the unbeatable Democratic member of Congress, Tip O'Neill.

But Dow's contributions prevented the one-time speaker of the House from wreaking havoc on other Republicans.

"That kept Tip busy in Cambridge, in his district," Dow explained. "Over 40 years, I gave over $1,000 to keep Tip O'Neill at home so he wouldn't be racing all over the country helping other Democrats."

Dow's longtime loyalty to Cambridge Republicans drew the attention of Republican National Committee Chair Haley Barbour, who personally invited him to attend his first convention.

"He raised holy hell with me," Dow said. "He kept calling me on the telephone, writing letters, always.... After about six weeks of bombardment, I told him I'd do it. I couldn't stand the pressure."

Dow said he is optimistic about the chances of presumptive Republican nominee Robert J. Dole, despite polls that place the former senator 20 points behind President Clinton.

"I don't give a damn about those things," Dow said. "The fact is, it's the grassroots that count, not the polls.

Razor-Thin Defeat

Trumbull, one of the most politically active Republican in the city, lost his chance to represent the state at the convention by less than a hair's breadth.

Trumbull was a candidate to represent the state's 8th Congressional District at the convention. But he tied for the third and final alternate spot with William Monahan, chair of the board of selectmen in Belmont.

Since Monahan is an elected official and Trumbull is simply a party activist, state party leaders gave the nod to the Belmont resident.

Still, they invited Trumbull along as a guest of the state party, and he will have the same privileges as the delegates--except voting rights, of course.

But Trumbull isn't dwelling on it. He's excited to be in the center of the action.

"At this point, the convention is going to be very interesting--we had thought this was going to be a very boring convention...and now all the talk about the language of the platform is really getting people excited," he said.

Trumbull said he's never been to a national convention, citing the cost and time as deterrents. But he said he's looking forward to the political receptions, and the chance to meet fellow Republicans from other states.

He also defended Cambridge's turnout to the convention--with about 200 Massachussetts Republicans attending from some 350 cities, Cambridge will actually be overrepresented, Trumbull said.

Cambridge's third Republican convention-goer, Weld, could not be reached for comment.

Discouraged but Optimistic

Cambridge is an overwhelmingly and aggressively liberal city, so its few Republicans are almost by nature a hardy bunch.

Nevertheless, Cambridge Republicans interviewed had a hard time defending Dole.

Trumbull, for example, said he's viewing the party's bitter strife about platform language as a chance to "really get people excited...because something is actually going to be decided there, in a fairly open fashion."

But he conceded that the Republican infighting wasn't all good.

"Granted. When you get lemons, make lemonade," he conceded. "If we're going to have it, at least it shows we can have it. The other party can't have a discussion."

Some Cambridge Republicans are blaming the party's problems on Dole.

"I think he's making all the wrong moves," said Jonathan T. Spampinato, a Weld aide and former Cambridge City Council candidate. "I think he's moving farther to the right, and he is significantly diminishing the possibility that he will even have a respectable showing."

But on the whole, the Republicans said they were optimistic about the party and the candidate.

Cambridge Republican John L. Fitzgerald, for example, is looking forward to the infusion of cash Dole's campaign will receive once he's the GOP's official nominee.

After next week, for the first time, Dole and Clinton will be competing on level ground," O'Neill said. "Then people will finally get to see a real debate."

Trumbull agreed.

"Don't underestimate how much difference that makes, when you can control the message that gets out...instead of, for the most part, a very hostile someone else," he said

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