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Forbes Cites Dole Smear; Charge Called ‘Totally False’ Race Heats Up In Weekend Before Iowa Precinct Caucuses

Sun., Feb. 11, 1996

Steve Forbes accused GOP presidential rival Bob Dole on Saturday of hiring a Utah company to smear Forbes in anonymous calls to voters. But the company said the charge was “totally false” and the Dole campaign said a desperate Forbes was smearing the truth.

In the final weekend before Monday’s precinct caucuses, Forbes criticized Dole TV ads run in response to Forbes’ own commercials.

“They’re talking about risky ideas,” Forbes said. “The real risky idea is trusting once again the Washington politicians.”

Forbes, standing outside a 4-H building in Mason City, used the blustery morning to complain he’s being unfairly attacked.

The Forbes campaign on Friday accused Dole of being responsible for anonymous phone calls pointing out that Forbes supports a woman’s right to an abortion in some cases and had said he supported President Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.

On Saturday, Forbes made that charge himself.

“He (Dole) ought to show the American people that he doesn’t stand behind anonymous phone callers,” Forbes said, adding that the calls were happening “as recently as last night in New Hampshire.”

Forbes’ campaign chief Bill Dal Col said he had “direct evidence” the Dole campaign had hired a Provo, Utah, telemarketing company for the phone effort.

Forbes vowed, “They won’t get away with it. We’re going to shine the sun on their falsehoods.”

But the company, Western Wats Center, issued a one-paragraph statement that said it was a polling firm and had “made absolutely no phone calls to any voters in Iowa or anywhere else that advocate or disparage a particular presidential candidate. … Steve Forbes is flat wrong and he should immediately retract his groundless accusation.”

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