- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Back in March, not long after he dropped out of the Republican primaries for president, Steve Forbes met with George W. Bush. Mr. Forbes offered to help Mr. Bush in any and every way possible. Mr. Forbes and his conservative supporters helped squash Arizona Sen. John McCain's insurrection and secure the nomination for Mr. Bush. So why have the Bush people frozen Mr. Forbes out of the Republican National Convention and out of the campaign team?
Ever since the McCain threat ended, the Bush campaign has totally ignored Mr. Forbes. Mr. Forbes's gracious offer to help has never even been acknowledged. This is a mistake. Mr. Forbes is one of the great assets of the Republican Party. He is the most articulate spokesman for the economic-growth agenda in the conservative movement. He has a widespread following among the investor class, the Internet-wired population, and large and small business leaders. Yet he will be nowhere to be seen at the convention in Philadelphia except for a Club for Growth event that he will speak at on the last day.
By locking out Mr. Forbes a slap in the face to those of us who supported him in the primaries the Bush people, especially their economic advisers, are exercising bad judgment. How can Elizabeth Dole be asked to speak at the convention, but not Mr. Forbes? Are the Bush people embarrassed by Mr. Forbes and his supporters? Are we liabilities? That wasn't the attitude of the Bush people back in March and April.
Mr. Forbes deserves a leading role at the convention and in the Bush campaign. He deserves it because although he lost badly to Mr. Bush in the primaries it was Mr. Forbes, more than any other candidate in both 1996 and 2000, who thrust the pro-growth agenda on a Republican Party that was still in the grasp of the Bob Dole austerity wing of the party. Mr. Forbes was the political godfather of flat-tax cuts, of private accounts for Social Security, of Medical Savings Accounts, of educational choice for parents.
Mr. Forbes is a national spokesmen for free trade and a strong dollar. Mr. Forbes has the capacity to rally the Reagan supply-side wing of the party in a way that no other Republican can. Mr. Bush smartly picked Richard B. Cheney as his running mate Mr. Cheney is second to none in his knowledge of foreign policy and national-security issues. Mr. Forbes is second to none on the prosperity issues. He's head and shoulders above anyone that Mr. Bush has working for him now on the economy. Mr. Bush needs Mr. Forbes's counsel and advice.
Mr. Bush must reach out to Mr. Forbes. Why not announce that Mr. Forbes will be the chairman of his economic team? Or make it known that he could be the Treasury secretary or head of his National Economics Commission (that Robert Rubin headed in Clinton's first term). This would electrify and unite the party at what is shaping up to be an otherwise business-as-usual four days in Philadelphia. Mr. Forbes is also the culturally conservative, free-trade, pro-growth antidote to Buchananism. But if the Bush campaign continues to freeze out Mr. Forbes, then his Reaganite supporters might just sit on their hands during the upcoming campaign.
This week the Republican theme in Philadelphia is unity. The party is advertising itself as "a big tent" that fits all the rival factions together. Mr. Bush has even embraced his main primary rival, Mr. McCain. Surely this big tent should be big enough to fit Forbes and his supply-side followers.
Steve Forbes is a great resource. Mr. Bush should put him to work both in this campaign, and especially when he is in the White House.


Lawrence Kudlow is chief economist at ING Barings and Stephen Moore is president of Club for Growth.

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