I was sad when I learned that Jack Kemp passed away. He was the only Republican who intrigued me enough to look at the party (six weeks as a paid member of College Republicans my freshman year). I liked his approach toward housing projects, when he was the Secretary of HUD. He'd articulated the possibility of using HUD funds to renovate housing projects, and then work with residents essentially to rent to own those spaces. Though that idea did not go very far, I thought that it was an innovative possibility to give the poorest in our nation an opportunity to be homeowners (a far better alternative than targeting the working poor, working class and lower middle class with predatory sub-prime loans).
Kemp chastised the GOP for not competing for support from black folks. If I recall correctly, he argued that the GOP seemed afraid of the black community. It was Kemp's experience as a football player that helped to remove the "mystery" about black folks for him (something the GOP needs to do with every other group that isn't straight, white and male).
Sadly, it was his run with Bob Dole that made me lose my faith in Jack Kemp politically. He had to change significantly his political positions in order to be selected, and it was not, in my mind, change for the good. I felt that he sold out his principles, that he let go of the qualities that would have made him attractive to more than the usual GOP suspects.
Regardless, I wanted to pay my respects to the man who led me to consider the GOP all those years ago.