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Campaign Notebook

Tue., Feb. 27, 1996

Monday’s developments:

Presidential race

Lamar Alexander campaigned in Georgia, hoping for a win in his home region to demonstrate he is a serious contender. “As we go into the next century we have a choice about which direction we’re going to go,” the former Tennessee governor said. “I can see Georgia leading the way.”

Pat Buchanan declared himself ready to break the “winnability barrier” in Arizona and vanquish doubts he could win the GOP presidential nomination. “I’m beginning to think I’m going all the way,” Buchanan said in Tucson, Ariz.

Bob Dole hoped good showings in the Arizona, South Dakota, and North Dakota primaries would boost his campaign. “We’re going to start winning tomorrow for a change,” Dole declared in Marietta, Ga. “I’m tired of coming in second.” Dole barely won in Iowa and finished second in New Hampshire and Delaware. He has made major staff changes trying to turn his campaign around.

Steve Forbes predicted he would make “an excellent showing” in Arizona, but backed away from earlier statements that he hoped to come in first. For the second day in a row, Forbes aired a half-hour TV pitch and tried to lure Dole to debate him on air. He went so far as to offer Dole airfare back to Arizona.

Dick Lugar snuggled teddy bears during a tour of the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. The intent of the factory trip, said one of his aides, was to highlight his support for small business. But Lugar acknowledged Vermonters are well known for thinking independently, and that he has a shot for some much-needed momentum. Lugar has placed in single digits in every primary so far.

News of note

Rupert Murdoch pledged to provide candidates a “straight and clean chance” to address the public on his Fox TV network this fall, including an hour on election eve. He challenged the other networks to do the same. CBS declined to comment. NBC did not immediately return a phone call for comment. An ABC spokeswoman said her network is already providing ample time to candidates in its 47.5 hours per week of news programs.

The type of trade policies supported by GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan would harm American businesses and cost thousands of jobs, the new chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said. “Building a wall around the United States would be economic disaster,” said Edwin Lupberger, the president of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. He will serve a one-year term as Chamber of Commerce chairman.

Presidential candidate Steve Forbes has scrapped plans to reopen a campaign office in New York state and will instead rely on coordinators working out of their homes, a top aide said. Thomas Slater, Forbes’ national political director, said the New York operation would receive campaign logistical support from the multimillionaire publisher’s New Jersey-based national headquarters. Slater, a veteran New York Republican political operative, denied Forbes was backing away from a vigorous New York campaign.

Troubled by Pat Buchanan’s past comments on subjects ranging from the Holocaust to the Gulf War, several Jewish groups challenged him either to admit he is anti-Semitic or to clearly disavow such views. While stopping just short of accusing the Republican presidential hopeful of bigotry, they cited a list of statements intended to show his writings, speeches and interviews contain a “record of judgment skewed by anti-Jewish inclinations.” The statements included praise of Adolf Hitler, support for suspected Nazi collaborators, and a reference to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.”

Today’s stops

Alexander: Tennessee.

Buchanan: Arizona; Marietta, Ga.

Dole: Charleston, S.C.

Forbes: Phoenix.

Lugar: Providence, R.I.; Bangor, Maine; Portland, Maine.

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