When Bob Dole resigned as Senate majority leader, he raised fear in the hearts of his handlers. Would he lose the happy-go-lucky demeanor that so many people associated with him in the Senate? What if he replaced it with a dour, boring manner that appealed to the serious voters who wouldn't trust a laid-back politician to save their souls?
"Whatever happens, don't lose your sense of humor," one of Dole's handlers said at the morning Lighten-Up Meeting."How can I laugh when the Republican Party doesn't know where it stands on abortion?"
"Would you laugh if it did know?"
"The people want a serious presidential candidate. In my next speech tonight I'm going to declare that Clinton laughs far too much, even when there's nothing to laugh about."
"That's not a bad theme, Senator, except that the public feels you are too serious, and they are starting to get nervous about you. Every time you make a speech on welfare, you sound as if you're about to drop the bomb on Cambodia."
"Welfare is a serious subject. If we don't stop the rot, we'll become a third-rate Russia. Clinton knows this, and he'll probably use it in his next radio address."
"The key to a successful election, Senator, is to promise to take the country into the next century through new ideas - or new jokes."
"Gentlemen, nothing about running for president is a laughing matter. Sure, I'm stiff, but when we have our next trade war with Mexico, being stiff is going to win the day."
"With all due respect, Senator, you tend to mumble a lot when talking to the voters."
"That's a habit I picked up in the trenches during World War II. We didn't want the other side to hear us. Look, I am not going to change my image just because the managers want me to be Don Rickles."
"Well, just try not to look so depressed when you're telling us why you can't look happy."
"Nixon never looked happy, and he won the election against Hubert Humphrey, who was the happiest dude in the country."
"Yes, Senator, but you're no Richard Nixon."