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Dole Shores Up Support In Visit To Gop Strongholds

Bob Dole shifted his focus to Southern states Wednesday, trying to shore up his Republican base with promises to protect Medicare and defense spending.

“No senior is going to be forced off Medicare,” Dole said in this state heavy with retirees.

Speaking at a rally along the St. John’s River in downtown Jacksonville, Dole also declared: “We’re going to carry the state of Florida. That’s No. 1.” Earlier, the Republican nominee spoke in Macon, Ga., beginning a two-day tour taking him to three cities in Florida, then to Alabama and Louisiana before wrapping up in Texas on Friday.

In military-minded Georgia, he criticized President Clinton for cutting the defense budget $112 billion.

“As commander in chief, if I’m going to make an error, it’s going to be on the side of having enough, not too little,” he said.

During the second presidential debate Clinton said there was less than 1 percent difference between his defense budget and the Republican’s.

Dole spokesman Nelson Warfield said, “This trip is about ensuring that the states we need to pull into the Republican column come there and states we need to keep in the Republican column don’t go anywhere else.”