The Corner

A Man of Destiny

One of my great memories was to watch, from behind the stage, as Kemp electrified the GOP convention in Detroit in 1980. In those twenty-five minutes, he created a national movement. This was his first real try at reading a speech teleprompter. In practice attempts, he had not done well. His coach, Frank Shakespeare, whispered to me about a half hour before he was to speak, “This is not going well, Dave. Jack’s a magnificent speaker, but this teleprompter is killing him.” Then just before Kemp was to address the convention, and with the proceedings behind schedule, the powers “upstairs” decided to delay his speech until the following evening. Dejected, Kemp began to walk back toward his hotel.

Of course, Kemp’s friends on stage would have nothing of that. They began introducing him to the convention. Kemp raced back. His delivery was magnificent. He had by that point memorized every line. Adrenalin pumping, he never looked at the dreaded teleprompter once. At that moment, I realized Kemp was a man of destiny. There was some guiding purpose to his life. Out of chaos came something powerful — a process that seemed beyond his control.

– David Smick is Chairman & CEO of Johnson Smick International and the author, most recently, of the book The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy. From 1978-84, he was Chief of Staff to Rep. Jack Kemp.

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