Tsongas looking to Maryland March 3 Big finish here could be pivotal

February 04, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Looking beyond Feb. 18 and the New Hampshire primary, Democratic presidential candidate Paul E. Tsongas says his campaign is "quite well organized" in Maryland and Maine.

The former senator from Massachusetts told reporters yesterday he has 600 volunteers in Maryland, which holds its primary March 3. Maine Democrats will caucus Feb. 23 to select delegates.

Mr. Tsongas tried to dispel analysts' criticism that he's a New England regional candidate who will fade after the New Hampshire primary. He currently is in second place in New Hampshire polls, trailing Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.

"There's no point doing well in New Hampshire if you hit a stone wall" later on, Mr. Tsongas said.

A strong finish in Maryland would help Mr. Tsongas build momentum going into "Super Tuesday," March 10, when several Southern states hold primaries.

But Mr. Tsongas faces a fight in Maryland. Mr. Clinton has corralled the most endorsements by political leaders.

Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska also have statewide organizations and hope to do well.

Mr. Tsongas said his steady rise in New Hampshire polls is bearing fruit: "We get $10,000 in the mail a day," he said. He held a fund-raiser last weekend in Baltimore.

Greek-Americans are among those contributing to his campaign, said Mr. Tsongas, whose father emigrated to the United States from Greece as a child.

But he is not getting as much support as Michael S. Dukakis did in 1988 as the Democratic nominee. Greek-Americans feel "traumatized by '88" because of Mr. Dukakis' crushing defeat by President Bush, Mr. Tsongas said.

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