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Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller (R-N.Y.) announced yesterday he will not be a candidate for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
Rockefeller said before national television audiences that his candidacy would divide the Republican Party and be cast as a personality battle between himself and former Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, the only major candidate now remaining in the field.
"I find it clear at this time that a considerable majority of the party's leaders want Nixon," he said.
Rockefeller added that he had "signed the appropriate affadavit asking the withdrawal of my name from the Oregon primary."
The governor has not, however, excluded the possibility of becoming a convention candidate if the delegates seek him out.
Yesterday's announcement came as a complete surprise to the various draft-Rockefeller groups in Massachusetts.
John E. Soleau, chairman of the Massachusetts Draft Rockefeller Group, said he "was really disappointed."
Soleau was in Washington last weekend for a conference of Rockefeller groups from 15 states. "We told the Rockefeller people that we had to have a 'live' candidate or we couldn't hold our forces together," Soleau said. Soleau was optimistic about Rockefeller's candidacy following the weekend meeting.
Marc P. Fairman, a first-year law student who helped direct the Students for Rockefeller draft group, said last night there "was little hope left." The student group will probably disband with individuals going their own ways, he added.
Fairman said that many of the members are loyal Republicans who would support Nixon if there was no alternative.
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