Dole launches Ariz. campaign in Buchanan's wake Senator refutes opponent's remarks on GATT, NAFTA

Campaign 1996

February 25, 1996|By Jules Witcover | Jules Witcover,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. -- No longer regarded as the certain heir to the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Bob Dole belatedly launched his campaign for Tuesday's Arizona primary here yesterday as rival Patrick J. Buchanan continued his self-proclaimed "wildfire" across the state.

Mr. Dole, alluding to Mr. Buchanan, warned the crowd that "we shouldn't play on people's fears, we should appeal to their hopes," and he made a guarded defense of the North American Free Trade Agreement and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which have been Mr. Buchanan's prime targets.

"It's not that NAFTA is bad, it's not that GATT is bad," Mr. Dole said. "It's that we have a president who hasn't used all the weapons Congress has given him to enforce these agreements and level the playing field for the American worker, the American farmer and everyone else."

Meanwhile, Mr. Buchanan was campaigning in Tempe and north of Phoenix, hammering at his message of unfair trade practices that he says put American workers at a disadvantage. He was also sticking to his guns on his proposal to close the nearby border with Mexico, despite a sharp exchange Friday in Gila Bend with a young Mexican-American student who harangued him over his attacks on illegal Mexican immigrants.

After Mr. Buchanan had pledged that as president, "I am going to stop this massive illegal immigration cold," the student shouted: "The Mexicans come over here to work. They help this economy. Why do you speak only of the Hispanics and the Mexicans who are on welfare when you have millions of Caucasians and African Americans on welfare?"

Mr. Buchanan replied that Mexicans "are a good people," but those who come here illegally have "no right to break our laws and come into our country and go on welfare and, some of them, commit crimes."

Mr. Dole's appearance at Green Valley and at a later rally at the University of Arizona came as party leaders continued to criticize and second-guess his decision to pass up the primary campaign's only debate last Thursday night. Dodie Londen, the state party chairwoman, said later that his absence was seen as a snub to Arizona and its Republican voters. "I think Dole is going to look back at that and be sick," she said.

Arizona will award all 39 national convention delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

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