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THE MAKING OF A QUARTERBACK 1970
Pat Ryan
December 07, 1970
Or: "Machiavelli couldn't have come up with a better game plan"
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December 07, 1970

The Making Of A Quarterback 1970

Or: "Machiavelli couldn't have come up with a better game plan"

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Flaherty: I'm too busy.

The next day Kemp learned the FCC had no regulation that would force Flaherty's commercial off the airwaves.

Early in the campaign, pre-Election Friday had been designated as a day of rest for Kemp, but his appointment secretary, Marietta Ruth, now could be heard on the telephone booking him for an appearance that day at a Sylvania factory, signing him up as a costume judge for a Halloween party at the Maple East Elementary School and inquiring what high school football games were scheduled that Kemp might attend. It was even decided that the candidate had better go bar-hopping Friday night in the Polish neighborhoods and take with him two former Buffalo teammates, Tom Sestak and Ed Rutkowski.

Kemp was warmly received at Sylvania, where complex radios used in fighters and helicopters are manufactured. Many of the women in the factory were festively celebrating Halloween. Some wore party masks as they worked over minuscule components. Kemp moved among them, shaking hands in a charming and debonair fashion. "He tilts his head, winks and gives them that Clark Gable look," said an amused Rutkowski, who had come along. Alternately the women teased, mothered and flirted with Kemp. They would straighten their wigs and squirm a bit in their chairs as he drew near. "Trick or treat," vamped a 40-year-old. They rushed after him in coveys for autographs and one ran into her office exclaiming happily, "I kissed Jack Kemp."

Wedged into the now-bulging schedule was a visit to a senior citizens' club. Kemp arrived during the Halloween square dance. The club members were in madcap dress; angels, devils, Alpine climbers. The clubhouse was gay with guitar music, a musician calling out, "Swing your partner, do-si-do...." Kemp circled the room meeting people. "You are too young to vote," he said, bending to shake the hand of a white-haired lady, "but I wanted to stop by and say hello." Someone suggested Kemp join in the square dance. "Why he wouldn't know his right foot from his left foot," a disapproving gentleman said. Kemp was never put to the test.

On Sunday the Kemp cause got a boost. The Buffalo Bills blasted the Boston Patriots 45-10. It was the team's second straight victory, not exactly an overwhelming statistic, except in Buffalo, for the Kemp-led Bills had not managed back-to-back wins since 1966. Buffalo fans, many of whom are blue-collar workers, were elated. Flaherty was not.

At 6:15 Monday morning Kemp was at Gate No. 1 of the Bethlehem plant to shake hands with steelworkers. The factory buildings and stacks were hulks against the night blue sky, the streets around the mill silent. Men carrying paper bags and lunch pails moved wordlessly toward the factory. Kemp stood under a streetlight, a figure exuding youth, success and an optimism toward life. "Hi, I'm Jack Kemp," he'd say confidently, grasping a hand. His was the single voice in the morning. Kemp workers were passing out handbills that asked, "Can a Union Leader Be Elected to Congress?" On the reverse side was a reprint of a page from the Congressional Record. It praised Kemp for his work bargaining for football players. Kemp had been prepared for a desultory and possibly hostile reception. "It's good the Bills won yesterday," he said. "It put everyone in a good mood." He faced no hostility, but not much enthusiasm either.

Mrs. Kemp also managed to cash in on the Buffalo victory. Reading in the morning newspaper that Dennis Shaw, the current Bills quarterback, was to sign autographs on Monday at the A-Mart, she took an armful of Kemp pamphlets to the store and positioned herself in just the spot where autograph-seekers would have to shake her hand and take her brochure first.

Monday afternoon the Kemp camp fretted. Nixon would be on television again that night. Wasn't he overdoing it? Would Republican candidates suffer from overkill?

Election morning dawned to find Kemp at the Ford plant, but he had hardly begun to shake hands when he was asked to leave—plant regulations. Then he went to visit polling places, but the ones he drove to were mostly empty. Anyway, Kempaigners had been posted at many of the district's 441 precincts. "Having them there shows organization, momentum, confidence," Armendaris said.

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