Kemp’s sons huddle in LV to campaign

Wed, Oct 23, 1996 (11:59 a.m.)

While the Kennedy clan is regarded as America's touch-football-playing political family, the Kemps are the ones who play the game for real.

"My mother (Joanne) is probably the only woman who has three professional quarterbacks in her family," Jeff Kemp said.

Jeff Kemp, 37, played from 1981-1991 for the Rams, 49ers, Seahawks and Eagles. His brother, Jimmy, 25, plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League, and their famous father, Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, played from 1957-1969 for the Lions, Giants, Chargers and Bills.

Jimmy Kemp, whose team is off this week, is helping his brother campaign for their father. The two were in Las Vegas Tuesday.

"You learn a lot on the playing field about teamwork and about what it takes to be consistent and to be a leader," Jimmy Kemp said. "We've also learned a lot from our dad. He's always there for us."

Even today, Jack Kemp takes the time during a hectic campaign season to go over game films with his youngest son.

Jeff Kemp, who operates the Washoe Family Council, a nonprofit family research and educational facility in Seattle, said his father's guidance and direction have helped him achieve many goals in life.

And today, Jeff and Jimmy Kemp say, the nation needs the guidance of Jack Kemp and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

"I know my father's been called 'Johnny-One-Note' for always speaking on economics," Jeff Kemp said. "But the word economics in Greek means 'study of the family', and my father believes that by improving the economic situation of many Americans, we can strengthen this nation."

Jeff Kemp praised the economic plan put forward by the GOP ticket.

He explained that cutting taxes by 15 percent across the board, halving the capital gains tax from 28 to 14 percent and reducing business taxes in impoverished areas are the best ways to promote financial and social growth.

"America has drifted toward government intervention too much," Jeff Kemp said. "Bill Clinton and Al Gore feel they have a government solution for every problem, but this approach reduces initiative in the private sector."

Jeff and Jimmy Kemp say they believe the tough economic climate in America today contributes more than most people think to a wide range of social problems -- including the ever-increasing number of single-parent homes.

And he added that these problems affect people of all color and ethnic backgrounds.

Jeff Kemp, who noted his father and Dole recently spoke on civil rights to 1,000 black journalists in Birmingham, Ala., said proudly that his father has always believed in equal rights and equal opportunity for people of all colors.

Jack Kemp once was among a group of players who in the late 1950s refused to play in an NFL game in a Southern city when relatives of black players were told to sit in the end-zone seats.

"When you're in a huddle, you don't care who's white and who's black. You want to know who can block and who can go out for a pass," said Jeff Kemp, quoting an axiom his father taught him long ago.

Perhaps it's the faith of Jack Kemp in his sons that has helped them forge professional football careers.

Jimmy Kemp said his dad still likes to throw a football around with both sons at locations ranging from the front yard of the family home in Bethesda, Md., to an international airport tarmac in the moments before a speech.

"His arm's as good as it ever was," Jimmy Kemp said.

And if Jack Kemp is not successful in 1996, will his political arm be just as strong as the GOP presidential nominee in the year 2000?

"You know, if you ask a quarterback in the middle of a game what he thinks about the next game, he'll get angry," Jeff Kemp said. "We're focused on this political campaign."

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