Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans Applaud Dole Decision

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans Applaud Dole Decision

Article excerpt

He is a man of the Senate, a master of its ways.

But after 35 years in Washington, Bob Dole decided that the best way to reach the White House was leaving his beloved Congress behind and perhaps even running against it.

Dole's announcement Wednesday that he would resign from the Senate was viewed in most circles as a bold gamble aimed at lifting his presidential campaign from the abyss.

His decision stunned fellow senators, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and President Bill Clinton.

Dole acknowledged in a brief, emotional speech in a Senate office building that he had reached a difficult point in his presidential quest. He said he needed to part company with the Senate after 27 years to rebuild the momentum that he will need to compete with Clinton in November.

"Some might find it surprising, given the view that Congress has been my life, but that is not so," Dole said. "With all due respect to Congress, America has been my life.

"At the very least, a presidential candidate owes America his full attention - everything he can give, everything he has - and that is what America shall receive from me."

Dole therefore begins the next phase of his presidential quest as a political outsider, unfamiliar footing since he won election as the Russell County, Kan., attorney in 1952. Dole was elected to the U.S. House in 1960 and to the Senate in 1968, where he has served a record six times as leader of the Republican senators.

Dole planned to make his first campaign stop as a lame-duck senator today in Chicago.

In quitting the Senate, Dole admitted failure in his strategy of campaigning for the presidency from the Senate floor. His departure also suggested that he wants to distance himself from a Republican Congress that has grown unpopular among many Americans.

Bond, Ashcroft Applaud

But Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour insisted Wednesday that Dole would be sounding Republican themes - in favor of smaller government, less taxes and tough anti-crime proposals. "He'll take that same agenda out in the country away from Washington."

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., said Dole's departure was "good news for Republicans that he's going to devote his entire energy to the campaign. Now he'll be able to draw the clear distinctions between his views and President Clinton's views."

Bond said he was shocked by Dole's decision even though he himself had advised giving more attention to the presidential race. "He was not focusing on the campaign enough. . . . Being majority leader is like being nipped to death by a pack of ducks."

Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., said Dole "has been a great leader of the Senate. . . . When the American people come to know Bob Dole like we know him in the Senate, they will elect him president of the United States."

Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar was among Republican governors who met with Dole in Washington on Tuesday. …

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