Page last updated at 06:39 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 07:39 UK

Former US congressman Kemp dies

Former US Congressman Jack Kemp (file photo, August 2006)
Jack Kemp said his football career prepared him for politics

Former US Congressman and football star Jack Kemp has died at the age of 73, after suffering from cancer, his spokeswoman has announced.

He was a tax-cutting Republican who described himself as a "bleeding-heart conservative".

He represented western New York for nine terms in Congress, then failed in a presidential bid in 1988.

He became housing secretary under the first President Bush, but also failed in a bid for vice-president in 1996.

In that campaign, he was Bob Dole's running-mate - a surprise combination as they were not close and clashed on policy.

Mr Kemp advocated tax cuts as the way to promote growth, while Mr Dole was opposed to them.

His spokeswoman Bona Park said he died at his home in Washington.

Fellow politicians paid tribute to him, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell calling him "one of the nation's most distinguished public servants".

Former President George W Bush said: "Jack will be remembered for his significant contributions to the Reagan revolution and his steadfast dedication to conservative principles during his long and distinguished career in public service."

The New York Times says his greatest legacy may stem from his years as a congressman from Buffalo, especially 1978, when his argument for sharp tax cuts to promote economic growth became Republican party policy, which has endured to this day.

Football career

In the 1960s, before he entered politics, Jack Kemp was a highly successful quarterback with the American football team, the Buffalo Bills.

It was a career he credited with giving him "a good perspective" for politics.

"When I entered the political arena, I had already been booed, cheered, cut, sold, traded, and hung in effigy," he was quoted as saying, according to Associated Press news agency.

He was voted the league's most valuable player in 1965 and held numerous AFL records, before retiring from the sport in 1969.

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