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'Super Tuesday' Brings Dole Near Nomination

ELECTION '96

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

(AP)-Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) easily won contests in Texas, Florida and four other Southern states yesterday to gain a virtual lock on the Republican presidential nomination. In victory, he reached out to his remaining rivals and said it was time to "put our ideas together" to beat President Clinton.

"Today, the American people in seven states chose the conservative they want to lead America, chose the conservative they want in the White House," Dole told a victory rally in Washington.

With House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) at his side, Dole stood under a banner that said "Changing America Together" and said: "We're going to move this country forward...get Bill Clinton out of the way and we will get the job done."

Dole was defeating Patrick J. Buchanan and Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes by more than 2-to-1 margins in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Mississippi. The Senate majority leader also was handily beating Buchanan in Louisiana, where Buchanan's caucus victory in February triggered a surge of support for the conservative commentator. Dole predicted Oregon would deliver him a seven-state "Super Tuesday" sweep and leave him with roughly three-quarters of the delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

"This is now a race between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton," Dole told the Associated Press. Looking ahead, he said he had thought only "in a loose way" about picking a running mate.

He made a conciliatory gesture to Forbes and Buchanan--perhaps hoping he could convince them to quit, or in Buchanan's case at least tone down his attacks.

"We've listened and we've heard strong messages," Dole said of his rivals, echoing Forbes' theme of economic growth and Buchanan's emphasis on middle-class economic anxiety. "It is time to come together now and put our ideas together and build a strong agenda for November."

Forbes' dismal night had him talking of quitting.

The millionaire publisher said he needed "a win or something akin to a win" in next week's Midwest primaries. "Obviously, we can't go to California without a breakthrough," Forbes of the March 26 contest.

The also-rans were running far behind in every state.

In Florida, for example, Dole was getting 55 percent to 21 for Forbes and 19 for Buchanan. In Texas, it was 55 percent for Dole, 21 for Buchanan and 12 for Forbes. Dole had 61 percent in Mississippi, Buchanan 27 and Forbes just 7.

Likewise, Oklahoma showed Dole with 59 percent, 22 for Buchanan and 14 for Forbes. Dole had 51 percent in Tennessee, to 26 for Buchanan. Forbes was fourth behind former gov. Lamar Alexander, who quit the race last week.

Leading GOP officials and activists tried to help Dole clear the field.

"Now is the time to unite behind our candidate because we are going to have a tough election in November," said Jeb Bush, son of former president George H.W. Bush and a prominent Florida Republican.

"Bob Dole is going to be the nominee," said Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed.

Dole's victories were lopsided and he clearly hoped Buchanan and Forbes would get the voters' message. Dole had at least 669 of the 996 delegates needed to clinch nomination, and he predicted he would go over the top next Tuesday after primary elections in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Forbes had 73 delegates and Buchanan 63.

Dole's satisfaction at the election results came in the face of three new national surveys showing Clinton with double-digit leads in head-to-head matchups. They also showed Dole would suffer if Ross Perot mounted another independent candidacy.

In these new surveys--and exit polling of yesterday's GOP voters--half the respondents also said Dole did not have new ideas.

"What I make of those is that once we get a nominee and he is out there focusing on Bill Clinton instead of getting beat up in primaries every day then we will turn this around," Dole told the AP.

Buchanan abruptly canceled an evening news conference at which he was supposed to react to the results. Earlier, he said: "We are going to go all the way and do battle for the party."

Clinton had no major opposition in Democratic balloting and was closing in on mathematically clinching renomination.

Common to the GOP electorate in all seven states was a jaundiced view of the federal government. Asked how often they trusted Washington to do what's right, only a fifth said most of the time. Six in 10 said sometimes, and one in 10 said never. Taxes and the deficit were the most important issues, according to voter surveys by Voter News Service, a consortium of the AP and the television networks.

In the week ahead, Dole said he would focus squarely on the Democratic incumbent--"Veto Bill"--and his rejection of GOP plans to balance the budget, cut taxes for families and investors, and reform welfare.

So bored were many Republicans with the predictable primaries that they had moved on to speculating whom Dole should pick for a running mate.

Gingrich, for example, said retired gen. Colin L. Powell was a top prospect, ignoring daily protests from Buchanan because Powell supports abortion rights. Gingrich also cited Michigan Gov. John Engler and California Attorney General Dan Lungren as "perfect examples of the kind of people who I think would be terrific."

Dole wouldn't name names, saying, "The slate is wide open."

But not too soon to take aim at Clinton.

He said his Midwest mission would be to remind voters they never received the balanced budget, middle class tax cut and welfare reform that candidate Clinton promised in 1992. In contrast, Dole pledged to quickly deliver those items and more, promising to eliminate several Cabinet agencies and shift power wholesale from Washington to the states.

"These may not be new ideas--they might have been around for a while, but they are good ideas," Dole said

Likewise, Oklahoma showed Dole with 59 percent, 22 for Buchanan and 14 for Forbes. Dole had 51 percent in Tennessee, to 26 for Buchanan. Forbes was fourth behind former gov. Lamar Alexander, who quit the race last week.

Leading GOP officials and activists tried to help Dole clear the field.

"Now is the time to unite behind our candidate because we are going to have a tough election in November," said Jeb Bush, son of former president George H.W. Bush and a prominent Florida Republican.

"Bob Dole is going to be the nominee," said Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed.

Dole's victories were lopsided and he clearly hoped Buchanan and Forbes would get the voters' message. Dole had at least 669 of the 996 delegates needed to clinch nomination, and he predicted he would go over the top next Tuesday after primary elections in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Forbes had 73 delegates and Buchanan 63.

Dole's satisfaction at the election results came in the face of three new national surveys showing Clinton with double-digit leads in head-to-head matchups. They also showed Dole would suffer if Ross Perot mounted another independent candidacy.

In these new surveys--and exit polling of yesterday's GOP voters--half the respondents also said Dole did not have new ideas.

"What I make of those is that once we get a nominee and he is out there focusing on Bill Clinton instead of getting beat up in primaries every day then we will turn this around," Dole told the AP.

Buchanan abruptly canceled an evening news conference at which he was supposed to react to the results. Earlier, he said: "We are going to go all the way and do battle for the party."

Clinton had no major opposition in Democratic balloting and was closing in on mathematically clinching renomination.

Common to the GOP electorate in all seven states was a jaundiced view of the federal government. Asked how often they trusted Washington to do what's right, only a fifth said most of the time. Six in 10 said sometimes, and one in 10 said never. Taxes and the deficit were the most important issues, according to voter surveys by Voter News Service, a consortium of the AP and the television networks.

In the week ahead, Dole said he would focus squarely on the Democratic incumbent--"Veto Bill"--and his rejection of GOP plans to balance the budget, cut taxes for families and investors, and reform welfare.

So bored were many Republicans with the predictable primaries that they had moved on to speculating whom Dole should pick for a running mate.

Gingrich, for example, said retired gen. Colin L. Powell was a top prospect, ignoring daily protests from Buchanan because Powell supports abortion rights. Gingrich also cited Michigan Gov. John Engler and California Attorney General Dan Lungren as "perfect examples of the kind of people who I think would be terrific."

Dole wouldn't name names, saying, "The slate is wide open."

But not too soon to take aim at Clinton.

He said his Midwest mission would be to remind voters they never received the balanced budget, middle class tax cut and welfare reform that candidate Clinton promised in 1992. In contrast, Dole pledged to quickly deliver those items and more, promising to eliminate several Cabinet agencies and shift power wholesale from Washington to the states.

"These may not be new ideas--they might have been around for a while, but they are good ideas," Dole said

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