Two former members of Congress say 2000 will be the year of the woman in national elections.
National elections in 2000 will produce a breakthrough for women when the major parties nominate a female for president or vice president, two former members of Congress predicted Wednesday.
Former Reps. Lou Frey, R-Fla., and Jim Lloyd, D-Calif., said Elizabeth Dole's presence on the Republican ticket -- in either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot -- would compel Democrats to select a woman to run with Al Gore.
Dole will force Democrats to have a woman," said Lloyd, a West Covina, Calif., government consultant ousted in the 1980 Reagan landslide after three terms. "You'll have a woman in the White House no matter how it comes off."
Frey, an Orlando attorney who served from 1969 to 1979, said placing a woman on the national ticket would be especially significant for Republicans. Only one woman has ever been nominated for U.S. vice president. Geraldine Ferraro filled that slot on Walter Mondale's losing Democratic ticket in 1984.
"The die is cast," Frey said. "It's about time."
He said Democrats must look outside the Beltway for a woman candidate, because "Washington has a taint to it."
Frey and Lloyd were on the Kansas University campus to meet with students as guests of the Robert Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy. Both are with the Stennis Center for Public Service's "Congress to Campus" program, jointly sponsored with the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. Frey is association president.
They answered questions from students in class and during an interview.
- Does anything really get done in Washington?
"Thank God we're not more efficient," Frey said. "There is a lot of bad legislation that gets killed."
- Any advice for House rookies?
Lloyd said novice congressmen must focus on about two dozen of the 7,000 bills introduced each session.
"Make up your mind early and stick with it and keep people off your back," he said.
- Is televised coverage of House activity a good idea?
Frey supports broadcasting of House proceedings, while Lloyd said cameras led to showboating. Lloyd's proof was Rep. Henry Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat who retired last year.
"Every day he spoke on television and it had nothing to do with what was going on in Washington."
- Are people increasingly leery of running for public office?
"It's a lot more difficult to get people to run," Frey said. "It's a full-contact sport."
"Don't run if you can't stand the sight of blood," Lloyd added, "particularly your own."
- In Congress, do all 435 members play an important role?
Frey said significant work of the House was the product of less than 15 percent of its members.
"There are 40, 50 or 60 people really driving the engine."
- What's your take on the completed impeachment trial of President Clinton?
Lloyd and Frey said Clinton was to blame for his troubles. Both admired House prosecutors for doing their best despite potential damage to their careers.
"This is one of those issues you get paid to bleed to death on," Frey said.
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