Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Winning in the Headlines

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Winning in the Headlines

Article excerpt

It's bad enough that Bob Dole has to run against Bill Clinton and Ross Perot without having to take on Saddam Hussein, Edouard, Fran, and Hortense. Like hurricanes feeding on warm tropical waters, campaigns feed on publicity. And Mr. Dole has had a tough time sharing the evening news with sparring in Iraq, cleanup in North Carolina, and flooding in Puerto Rico.

Dole's biggest problem right now: He is trying to sell an economic plan crafted to answer voter unease about the economy at a time when voters are no longer uneasy. The economic news has been too good for Dole's good: unemployment falling to 5.1 percent, wages increasing, and consumer confidence rising.

Dole's plan to cut taxes 15 percent while balancing the budget is meant to spur economic growth. Whether it would work is hotly debated, with economists on both sides of the issue. But the public has moved past its queasiness of last winter, and for many the current economic growth seems just fine. This makes the Dole-Kemp team's job that much harder. So the last thing Dole needed right now was a staff shakeup. At this point in a campaign, a staff should be a well-oiled machine, firing on all cylinders. Some who've watched previous Dole campaigns, which have stumbled over internal turf battles, wonder if this is a repeat. To make matters worse, Dole faces a Clinton organization that even its opponents admire for its smooth operation and rapid response. So jittery are congressional Republicans that Dole and running mate Jack Kemp were forced to organize a campaign rally on Capitol Hill to placate them. The legislators can read the polls - last week's ABC News Poll had the president leading in 28 states with 338 electoral votes, Dole in 16 with 135 votes, and seven rated at close or even. (It takes 270 to win.) Dole is so far behind in California and Illinois that there is talk about him pulling out of those states. …

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