FORMER US SENATOR and presidential candidate Gary Hart will be in Dublin on Wednesday as part of a fact-finding mission regarding the situation in Northern Ireland on behalf of the US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Hart is travelling in a private capacity but is doing so after he was asked by Kerry, a friend and former colleague, to assess how the US can assist the parties in the North in finding a sustainable solution to the ongoing problems of flags, parades and the past.
Hart is due in the capital on Wednesday and is also visiting London and Belfast. He is set to meet with the Tánaiste Joan Burton, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and senior official from Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s department.
Hart, 77, was a US senator for Colorado between 1975 and 1987 and has in recent years served as a consultant on national security.
He chairs a number of groups including the US State Department’s International Security Advisory Council and the US Defense Department’s Threat Advisory Council.
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He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an honorary fellow of the literary and historical society at UCD.
He ran for the White House twice in the 1980s, on both occasions failing to secure the nomination for the Democratic Party.
Hart was the main challenger to the eventual Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, in the 1984 presidential election. But his campaign gradually petered out, most famously when Mondale confronted Hart during a TV debate over the substance of his policies by asking: ‘Where’s the Beef?’
In 1987 he was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 election but his campaign came undone after rumours of an extramarital affair and womanising began to emerge.
A stream of newspaper stories would eventually result in a picture emerging of Hart wearing a ‘monkey business’ t-shirt and a woman who was not his wife, later identified as 29-year-old model Donna Rice, sitting on his knee.
Hart subsequently dropped out of the race.