Dole, Buchanan Strike Opposite Trade Notes In S.C.

Robert J. Dole and Patrick J. Buchanan carried the Republican presidential campaign into South Carolina Wednesday and arrived at very different places.

Dole chose the massive BMW automobile plant near Spartanburg as the backdrop to trumpet the importance of expanded trade and investment. “It’s all about trade and competition,” Dole told reporters.

Buchanan traveled to an abandoned textile plant near the Georgia border to decry the impact of free trade and the changing global economy on American workers. “There are losers in the go-go global economy,” Buchanan said. “We are going to put a spotlight on the people who have been left out.”

Steve Forbes, fresh from his Arizona win and digging deeper into his personal fortune, focused on the Northeast and predicted he could upset Dole in New York.

The confusion and lack of a clear front-runner created a free-for-all atmosphere in South Carolina.

Saturday’s crucial primary comes in a state that offers hope for the winners and the also-rans after Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona and North and South Dakota.

South Carolina itself is a state in transition economically and politically. As Buchanan points out, the textile industry, once the backbone of the state’s manufacturing sector, has been hurt by global competition. But the state has been a success story in luring foreign investment, and many businesses now look to foreign markets for their growth, as Dole said.

Once seen as the state where Dole hoped to effectively wrap up the nomination fight, South Carolina now offers the one-time front-runner another stiff test in his effort to rehabilitate his candidacy after losing in New Hampshire and Arizona. But given the volatility of the Republican contest, Saturday’s primary presents obstacles and opportunities to the rest of the field as well.

South Carolina, the first of a string of southern primaries over the next two weeks, traditionally has foreshadowed the results elsewhere in the region.

Dole relied largely on surrogates Wednesday but agreed at the last minute to participate in today’s South Carolina debate.

Forbes, who leads in delegates as a result of his Arizona win, spent Wednesday plotting strategy, raising money - and vowing to open his wallet even wider.

“I’ll spend whatever it takes to get the message across,” Forbes said. The publishing heir planned to go to South Carolina to appear in today’s debate and then focus much of his effort on New England, which votes Tuesday, and New York, whose primary is March 7.

Buchanan, after his third-place showing in Arizona, sought to regain his mantle as the leading anti-Dole candidate by focusing on trade and abortion issues in South Carolina. The state has a large Christian Coalition membership that backs Buchanan and many textile industry workers who agree with Buchanan’s stance against free-trade deals.

Buchanan launched his Southern strategy by hammering Forbes for favoring abortion and Dole for being tied to corporate America.

Lamar Alexander, who was an afterthought in Tuesday’s contests in Arizona and the Dakotas, said that Forbes’ victory in the Arizona primary was good news for his campaign - despite his own dismal showing.

“Now there is no front-runner,” Alexander declared before the Georgia State Senate.

“I need to make a strong showing in South Carolina. I need to make a strong showing in Georgia,” he said. “But so do all the others.

xxxx CAMPAIGN NOTES Wednesday’s developments: Money, money, money To appreciate the magnitude their campaign spending, consider this fact: Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., and magazine publisher Malcolm S. “Steve” Forbes each has spent more money seeking the GOP nomination than all 11 candidates combined at this point in the 1992 presidential race. Dole has accused Forbes of trying to buy the election. Forbes retorts that Dole has spent more money in pursuit of the presidency than he. The Federal Election Commission reported Wednesday that Forbes and Dole each have spent more than $25 million on the race so far.

A flat-out assessment The messy battle among Republicans has certainly cheered the Democratic Party. “The Republican field is very interesting,” House Minority Whip David Bonior, D-Mich., said. “You’ve got right now Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan, Bob Dole and Lamar Alexander. “Flat tax, flat earth, falling flat and flattened.”

The other guys Lamar Alexander refused to bow out of the presidential race despite lame showings in every primary so far, but unless he gets better than 10 percent in Saturday’s primary, he can forget about any federal campaign assistance. Dick Lugar says he will quit if he doesn’t win Vermont. He is advertising only in Vermont. - From wire reports

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