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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov: Running Mate For Bob Dole?

Now that Senator Robert Dole has secured the Republican party nomination for the presidency, the political debate has turned to his choice of running mate as vice president. There is talk of General Colin Powell and of various obscure Republican governors from the Midwestern industrial states.

But on the evidence of the last few days, Senator Dole already has a running mate, and his name is Gennady Zyuganov.

The leader of the Russian Communist Party is the prime exhibit in what will be the Republican case against U.S. President Bill Clinton this autumn: that he is the president who lost Russia.

Foreign policy is rarely a central issue in U.S. presidential elections, at least when the country is not at war or has no troops in harm's way overseas. This year looks to be different, because Clinton and Dole both insist that they want to balance the budget, reform welfare and the health system, cut taxes and stop Hollywood from affronting family values.

This means that on domestic matters, Dole's campaign will have to focus on the most divisive issues, like a woman's right to an abortion, or whether blacks and other minorities should benefit from affirmative action to help them get jobs and an education. Dole will also try to make Clinton himself, his wife and his scandal-prone ways, an issue.

But Dole needs something else to persuade the voters to vote for him, and not just against Clinton. And the Dole campaign is crossing its fingers and hoping that Zyuganov might just provide it.

Foreign affairs are unpredictable. They looked bad for Clinton in his first two years, with humiliation in Somalia and Haiti piled on indecision in Bosnia. Clinton's diplomatic record looked very good at the start of the this year, as he claimed the title of peacemaker in Bosnia and Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Even if they all turn sour at once, Clinton will still get credit for trying.

Americans have not yet learned to think of China as any serious kind of threat, despite its nuclear weapons and its incontinent ways of selling the most lethal kinds of military hardware to the most unsuitable regimes.

They are, however, accustomed to nervousness about Russia, the one country on earth with the strategic nuclear power to challenge U.S. dominance. And while the American media barely bothered to report the Duma vote to nullify the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the State Department and the National Security Council and the Republican foreign policy experts around Dole have thought of little else.

Dole's advisers always thought that the defeat of Boris Yeltsin in the June elections would help them. The prospect of Yeltsin being replaced by a Communist party leader who wants to restore the Soviet Union has got Dole salivating.

They are drafting the television advertisements already, the bear prowling through the woods as the voice-over says: "Ronald Reagan and George Bush, two Republican presidents, ended the Cold War and tamed the communist menace. With Republicans in the White House, free elections came to Russia and brought democracy to the Kremlin. With Bill Clinton in the White House, the Communists are back. Elect Bob Dole because we can't afford any more mistakes."