Missouri's Votes Will Be Fought over Presidential Candidates Planning Frequent Visits to This Key Swing State

By Jo Mannies Post-Dispatch Political Correspondent | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 8, 1996 | Go to article overview

Missouri's Votes Will Be Fought over Presidential Candidates Planning Frequent Visits to This Key Swing State


Jo Mannies Post-Dispatch Political Correspondent, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


BILL'S COMING back, and Bob's likely to follow.

If you live in Missouri, you may feel like you're on a first-name basis with President Bill Clinton and Republican Bob Dole by the time the election on Nov. 5 rolls around.

If all goes according to plan, you'll be seeing a lot of them - in person or on TV. On Tuesday, Clinton is visiting Kansas City and St. Louis - his second stops in the state in less than two weeks. If that pace continues, the president may top his performance in 1992, when he dropped by Missouri eight times between the Democratic National Convention and the November election. The president is speaking at a Kansas City meeting of the Southern Governors Association, then flying here for a late afternoon speech outside the Gateway magnet school complex and an early evening fund-raiser. On Aug. 30, he and Vice President Al Gore and their wives appeared in front of thousands at a rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo., that kicked off a two-day, four-state bus tour right after the Democratic National Convention. If Dole sticks to his plans, Missourians may see him or an ally this week as well. Dole, his running mate, Jack Kemp, and their wives attracted about 15,000 people to a Labor Day rally on the Arch grounds, according to the Secret Service. "I was told to expect a visit by Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, their wives or a high-level surrogate about every eight to 10 days," said Ray Gruender, Missouri executive director for the Dole-Kemp campaign. Why The Show-Me State? What's the attraction of Missouri? "It's hard to win without winning Missouri," said Julie Gibson, head of the state Democratic Party's coordinated campaign for the entire ticket. Gibson, who was the Clinton-Gore state director in 1992, predicts the duo will spend as much time in Missouri as they did four years ago. Gore, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tipper Gore stopped in the state almost as much as Clinton did. Then-President George Bush and his allies matched that pace in their quest to win over Missouri voters. At stake are Missouri's 11 electoral votes. Only 12 other states have more, including Illinois (22 electoral voters), which received far less attention in 1992 from the presidential candidates. Missouri's biggest draw for candidates, analysts say, is its reputation for going with the winner. Missouri voters seem to represent best the mood of the country in presidential elections in this century. Only once since 1904 have Missourians favored the national loser: in 1956, when the state supported Democrat Adlai Stevenson from neighboring Illinois over incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. Missouri's image as a mirror of the national mood isn't lost on the candidates or their allies, analysts say. The only thing that might discourage candidate visits is if the state seems to be going overwhelmingly for either Dole or Clinton. Both candidates then would spend more time in more competitive states, analysts and insiders say. Even though some polls show Clinton leading in Missouri, Republicans say there is time to close the gap and hand the state to Dole. …

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