And now Flaherty became more of a worry by the hour. One day as Joanne Kemp was driving around her home town of Hamburg, a district she views with a kind of territorial imperative, she saw numbers of green and blue Flaherty bumper stickers and yard signs. With eyes like an eagle, she spied boys with ties walking down a Hamburg street. "That's unusual," she said to a friend. "Boys don't wear ties in this neighborhood. They must be canvassing for Flaherty." She turned the corner in her car and noticed a woman about 100 yards away. "She's from the League of Women Voters," Mrs. Kemp said. "I wonder what she is doing on this street. She doesn't live here."
An attractive and purposeful woman, Joanne Kemp rang hundreds of doorbells during her husband's campaign. Almost every afternoon, between 3 and 5—a time, she explained, when someone was usually to be found at home—she would work an area, setting out with a list of the homeowners' names that also noted whether they were registered Democrats or Republicans. It would take her perhaps 90 minutes to visit all the houses on a block.
"There is no way of knowing how effective she was," Alex Armendaris said, "but I've never known a wife to work so hard for a candidate."
The quarterback was working, too. A day of campaigning is a grip of hands, a kaleidoscope of faces; it is pride in a crowd's applause, its laughter, its loyalty; it is assuredness, confident speeches, verbal rambles spliced with recurring phrases; it is surges of earnestness and conviction. But inevitably there are the flaws, the self-doubt, the voters turned off and the speeches that run on and become nonsense. The silly rote can depress the man. Tiredness seeps in his shoulders. Yet ambition flails at him.
Follow Jack Kemp a day. He begins by pre-empting I Love Lucy on a local television station, half an hour bought for $700 to display him as an articulate candidate. In some houses Lucille Ball fans click Kemp's earnest face from the screen. In other homes, sets continue to run in the mindless progression of morning, from Captain Kangaroo to a bowling show to Kemp. He looks out on a scene of curlers, dungarees, mops, breakfast dishes, unmade beds. Kemp is answering questions from the home audience. "Operators are ready to take your calls," an announcer says. The questions are censored by Armendaris, some are reworded, several are planted, dozens discarded. At the end of the show Kemp is wet through from 10,000 watts of lights. The campaign manager is pleased with the performance. "Jack looked more sincere than he did in the last program," Armendaris says.
Next, Kemp drives to a candidates' luncheon at a Republican women's club. It is an aristocratic group dating from 1936, when Mrs. Ward Wickwire, grande dame of Buffalo society, carried a pennant down Main Street in an Alf Landon parade. The club president wears her three strands of pearls and gold elephant as if they were sergeant's stripes. Over the chicken curry and peas, Kemp is suave and impressive.
His schedule is tight, an appointment with the editors of a newspaper from which he hopes to win endorsement is at 2:30, and at 3 o'clock, three miles away, he is to appear at the grand opening of a tire company. "Excellent chance to meet steelworkers," his schedule notes. Kemp decides to drop the tire store opening. "But, Jack, you can make it," Joanne says insistently. "You don't get many chances to meet steelworkers." He declares firmly that he will not go.
That evening Kemp is to speak at the Worthington machinists' golf banquet. It is near dusk when he arrives at the faded Moose Hall where the stag banquet is being held in a fluorescent-lit basement. Above the beer drinkers are crepe decorations, twisted red and white ribbons and pink bells. Kemp is welcomed simply and well, but he is not at ease. "Football is what helps me with these people," he whispers to an associate. He refuses a beer and asks for a Coke. He seldom drinks. He signs autographs for the men's sons and talks about the Bills' upcoming game.
Conversation at the dinner is awkward for Kemp, and when he rises to speak he spends many minutes telling football anecdotes. He stresses his experience at the bargaining table representing the American Football League players' union. Phrases in the speech betray his discomfort. "I know you people...." Emotionally, Kemp is not one of the group. He talks on, telling the men America is in the state Charles Dickens described in A Tale of Two Cities—the best of times and the worst of times. He speaks of the spirit of the country, of law and respect. He calls for rededication. He closes with a lengthy quote from Gibbon concerning the decline of Athenian freedom. He is given a fine ovation on leaving.
"These are the people I must see more of," he says as his driver heads the car toward an evening version of still another upper-middle-class coffee hour. "Damn! I wish I could get into more union meetings, but as a Republican you just can't get invited. Oh, I'm tired." Kemp holds his head. He turns on the inside car light to read reports and restlessly turns it off again and reaches for the radio. A singer is wailing through the speakers, "I need your love, I want your love...."