Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Denies Smearing Forbes; Gramm Won't Bow Out

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Denies Smearing Forbes; Gramm Won't Bow Out

Article excerpt

The campaign tempo increased in Iowa on Saturday as Monday's Republican presidential primary caucus approached. Among the events:

Senate majority leader Bob Dole, still the front-runner for the GOP nomination, denied Saturday that he had any role in trying to smear publishing heir Steve Forbes. He compared his rival's allegation to Ross Perot's claims of a GOP conspiracy to ruin his 1992 candidacy.

Taking a new tactic, Texas Sen. Phil Gramm said he would stay in the race regardless of his Iowa showing, an implicit acknowledgment that he may not finish in the money. Earlier, he said he would bow out if he failed to finish at least in third place.

President Bill Clinton, so far unopposed for the Democratic nomination, accorded himself the luxury of poking fun at the Republican fight.

"This election is not about me," Clinton said in Iowa City. "It's not about any of these folks running television ads about each other - and me. It's about you."

The latest Dole-Forbes exchange, and Gramm's retreat, came as Republican presidential hopefuls careered across the state, courting undecided voters and Christian conservatives viewed as crucial to the outcome of the race.

"If you are on good terms with your kinfolk, talk to them about coming out and voting and helping us change America," Gramm told a crowd of about 600 people in Fort Dodge.

He said that while it would be "very difficult" to recover from a bad showing in Iowa, "I'm heading to New Hampshire and I'm heading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" - the street address of the White House.

Dole bused in volunteers from Kansas and other states to help turn out voters Monday night. Knowing nothing less than a win here will do for him, Dole said: "Don't worry about sleep the next couple of days; it will come later."

A new Des Moines Register poll confirmed the Iowa GOP landscape: Dole was ahead, followed by Forbes. Pat Buchanan, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander and Gramm were bunched together well behind Forbes, suggesting an unpredictable race for third place.

With his standing in the polls slipping and all the 30-second ad slots bought up, Forbes has purchased 21 half-hour blocks to air a campaign "infomercial" across the state starting Sunday. …

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