Dole sweeps 7 more states Pressure increases on Buchanan, Forbes to quit the race

16th victory in a row

Senator has amassed nearly three-quarters of delegates he needs

Campaign 1996

March 13, 1996|By Carl M. Cannon | Carl M. Cannon,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - Bob Dole stepped up his march toward the Republican presidential nomination yesterday with smashing victories in Texas, Florida and five other states holding primaries on "Super Tuesday."

"The only Tuesday more 'super' than this Tuesday will be Tuesday, Nov. 5," an ebullient Mr. Dole told supporters last night at his Washington headquarters.

Flanked by his wife, Elizabeth, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mr. Dole added: "We're going to move this country forward. Give us a chance. Get Bill Clinton out of the way and we'll get the job done!"

In six of the seven states, Patrick J. Buchanan finished second, with Steve Forbes trailing results were "a disappointment" and said flatly that his campaign could not continue past Tuesday unless he attained "a breakthrough in a Midwestern state."

The Senate majority leader's decisive triumphs yesterday gave him 16 victories in a row all by wide margins since his narrow loss in Arizona to Mr. Forbes on Feb. 27. That defeat, coming after a second-place showing to Mr. Buchanan in New Hampshire's primary Feb. 20, was portrayed by Mr. Dole's rivals as evidence that the Kansas Republican was a weak and wounded front-runner.

L Since then, all the results have proved quite the opposite.

Mr. Dole began the day with 392 delegates three times as many as Mr. Forbes and Mr. Buchanan combined.

By picking up nearly all of the 362 delegates up for grabs yesterday in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Oregon, Mr. Dole has now captured about three-fourths of the 996 delegates needed to clinch his nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.

On Tuesday, the Dole campaign takes its juggernaut into Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin, states he is also expected to carry.

Going over the top soon

Unless disaster strikes the Dole campaign, it appears he will go over the top then or on March 26, when California, Nevada and Washington state hold their primaries.

Last night, those who had been urging Mr. Forbes and Mr. Buchanan to drop out of the race, raised their voices even louder. Early in the day, both men defiantly insisted that they could carry their causes all the way to the convention in San Diego.

"We are going to go all the way and do battle for the party," said Mr. Buchanan, who insisted the election was about more than just a struggle for delegates and for securing the nomination. "It's a battle for the future of the Republican Party."

Mr. Forbes made the same point, noting that important states he mentioned Michigan have yet to be heard from. Besides, he added, there is plenty of time for the party to unify before its August convention.

Now is the time, Mr. Forbes suggested, for the Republican Party to hash out what ideas it should unite behind.

"Even though some people say there's a certain candidate who has it all wrapped up, it's my belief that it's important to get the issues before the voters," said Mr. Forbes, who has based his candidacy on simplifying and lowering tax rates.

Later, Mr. Forbes quipped, "If they don't want me at the convention, I'll dust off my press pass and cover it for Forbes magazine."

To Mr. Dole, who now sets his aim on Mr. Clinton, his Republican rivals' insistence on staying in the race is taking on new urgency.

"You see these national polls with Clinton with a double-digit lead as long as we're brawling and squabbling among ourselves, Clinton has a free ride," he said.

Asked what types of overtures or concessions he could make to get Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Forbes out, Mr. Dole replied, "I'm not prepared to negotiate anything with either one of them. They have a right to run. They have to decide if they want to beat Bill Clinton or they want to be spoilers they can make a choice."

But clearly, the differences within the Republican Party aren't simply a matter of personalities. Does the Republican Party's path lie with the disgruntled blue-collar workers responding to Pat Buchanan's anti-immigrant, protectionist message? Or is Steve Forbes' song of cutting taxes and helping business the real future?

Mr. Dole has indicated that his heart is with neither vision. Last night, he addressed Buchanan voters in his own minimalist way, simply referring to himself as a "conservative," and asking them whom they would they rather have in the White House: Mr. Dole or Mr. Clinton. Conversely, appealing to Forbes supporters, the majority leader recounted his support of the 1981 Reagan administration tax cut.

Meanwhile, exit polling showed a deeply divided electorate even within Republican ranks.

On the subject of curbing immigration, which Mr. Buchanan has proposed, four out of 10 Republican primary voters said the United States could not afford to accept "any" new immigrants right now. But about half of those polled answered affirmatively when asked whether the United States should always welcome "some" immigrants.

Abortion not important

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