Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

That Awkward Age Dole Running Hard to Show He's Not Too Old for Presidency

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

That Awkward Age Dole Running Hard to Show He's Not Too Old for Presidency

Article excerpt

AGE AS AN ISSUE can't be denied when it surfaces in a presidential campaign - but it can be deflected.

Watch Bob Dole, who just turned 72, running overtime to become the oldest challenger ever elected to the White House.

His pace is unrelenting, in the campaign and in the day job as majority leader of the Senate, which also means working nights.

Dole's campaign medical report his people say, is excellent. "I'm in great health," he says.

The Capitol physician agreed. "The patient is in excellent health with all medical conditions stable or controlled," Dr. John Eisold said in a report issued by the Dole campaign.

World War II wounds have denied him the use of his right arm for 50 years, and are said to pain him still. He shakes hands with his left. He had surgery for prostate cancer in 1991; it was successful and he said it made him a poster boy for testing and treatment for the disease.

He turned 72 Saturday. His birthday weekend was to be a relatively easy one. Morning at home with his wife, at their Watergate apartment, then off to Southampton, N.Y., the Long Island resort, for two campaign fund-raising receptions, birthday cakes and celebrations with about 150 supporters. He is taking Sunday off, not even a TV talk show, and that's rare. Almost half his Sundays last year included at least one TV interview program, and he wasn't even campaigning then.

The positive side of age is experience. So the Kansas senator describes himself as seasoned, tempered, tested. Elected, he would at 73 take over for a president 23 years younger than he, a generation gap in reverse.

One of his allies, Republican Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois, said he'd thought the age factor would be a problem for Dole, but Edgar has changed his view. "I'm not sure it will be as much of an issue as I would have thought a year ago," Edgar said.

Edgar said President Bill Clinton has image problems over trust, and steady leadership, and that could be a plus for Dole.

Dole would like to think so, and he hopes to persuade Republicans. To that end, he claimed leadership credentials akin to Ronald Reagan's at a session of the Republican National Committee last weekend in Philadelphia. …

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