Revved-Up Dole Hits Campaign Trail
SAN DIEGO (AllPolitics, Aug. 16) -- The speeches have ended and the balloons have been let loose. The GOP now prepares for its largest battle: winning back the presidency.
Fresh from his triumph at the Republican National Convention, GOP presidential hopeful Bob Dole hit the campaign trail today for an 81-day scramble for votes. His first stops: four states carried by Bill Clinton in 1992.
Dole accepted the GOP's nomination Thursday night, delivering a speech filled with patriotic references that called for a return to what he termed honor, liberty and individual accountability. (703K WAV sound) He praised war veterans, emphasized the need to improve education, stressed family values and pushed for tax cuts. (557K WAV sound)
"I finally got to speak last. I've been trying since 1964," Dole told reporters afterward. "I liked it."
During his speech, he lashed out at the Clinton administration, summing up the current White House staff as a corps of elitists "who never grew up, never did anything real."
Senior White House Adviser George Stephanopoulos responded sharply, calling the speech "the most partisan, negative and divisive Republican speech since Barry Goldwater's in 1964."
Dole and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp leave San Diego for a rally in Denver. They then head to Springfield, Ill., Saturday and to Kemp's hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. They end their jaunt Sunday in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Home run speech
Republicans successfully kept divisions over abortion and affirmative action out of the limelight during the convention. And GOP leaders said Dole's acceptance speech was the home run they were looking for.
"I believe it was the best speech I have heard the old gentleman give," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). "It was a pretty tough speech. It sets the tone for the rest of the campaign."
A new CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP poll suggests other Americans liked what they saw at the convention. In a poll taken before Dole's speech, the gap between Clinton and Dole narrowed to 11 percentage points. Last week, Clinton held a 22 percentage point lead over Dole.
The GOP will now work to build on the momentum. Maryland GOP chairwoman Joyce Lyons Terhes said, "We have a good shot at it but it's not going to be easy." Rep. William Clinger (R-Pa.) warned against a "false sense of euphoria coming out of the convention. The party base has to be energized."
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