Despite rumors that Utahn Steve Studdert may be the next big-time former Republican official to jump ship for Ross Perot, Studdert says he is loyal to his old boss - George Bush - and may work on his campaign.
Studdert helped run Bush's campaign in 1988 and traveled with him continously after the Republican National Convention. Later, he organized Bush's inauguration. And for six months, Studdert was Bush's "image-maker" who arranged trips and backdrops for Bush's speeches.Still, the Washington Times this week reported what it said are "hot rumors" that Studdert would join Perot's campaign as did his friend Ed Rollins, the former director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"Ed Rollins and I are friends and I have great admiration for him," Studdert told the Deseret News.
So did Rollins or the Perot campaign try to lure Studdert? "Any advances that were made were confidential," he said. "But some interesting advances have been made in recent weeks."
He added, "No amount of money can buy my loyalty. The president and Mrs. Bush have been generously kind to me and my family; my gratitude and devotion is neither fleeting nor temporary. We have spent too many hours and traveled far too many miles together for me to jump ship."
In fact, Studdert said he plans a trip in the next several days to Washington to discuss possibly helping the Bush campaign again this year.
"But I'm not sure I have the energy for another presidential campaign. It would be my fifth. I worked on campaigns in 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988," he said.
He added that he left the Bush administration in 1989 because "I wanted a private life, and it would be hard to give that up again." He has been running an international management consulting company.
However, Bush could want Studdert because he was part of a consulting team that helped Bush erase a 17-point lead by Michael Dukakis in 1988 to finally win by a landslide.
The team's tactics were controversial, though, with what Democrats claimed was negative campaigning - including attacking Dukakis for prison furlough programs that allowed Willie Horton to rape and terrorize a family in Maryland.
Studdert also had long been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or Congress in Utah this year, but he withdrew from any contention early.
He still found himself involved in the Senate race when Republican Joe Cannon admitted to the press that he tried marijuana as a student at Brigham Young University and identified Studdert as the young undercover officer who had sold it to him.