Dole disputes rumors of campaign troubles
By Jonathan Karl/CNN
September 21, 1999
Web posted at: 12:34 p.m. EDT (1634 GMT)
NEW MARKET, New Hampshire -- With events like a recent impromptu polka march on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole wants to prove the critics wrong. She can be as unscripted and spontaneous as anyone.
She dismisses talk that the abrupt departure of her communications director and her press secretary earlier this month is a sign that her campaign is struggling.
"George Bush lost his press secretary just a few weeks ago, right?" Dole said. "And Gary Bauer just lost his chairman. These things happen in campaigns."
|Elizabeth Dole grand marshals a NASCAR race in New Hampshire|| |
Dole says it is unreasonable to say her campaign has started off slow.
"When you're president of the American Red Cross, you don't do anything political," Dole said. "It's absolutely nonpartisan. So on February 1, I was starting from scratch. And it takes a few months to build an organization.
"We're number two" could be an unofficial motto of the Dole campaign at this point. Faced with George W. Bush's formidable lead, Dole wants to emerge from the pre-primary season in second place. As one Dole adviser put it, "If Bush runs a perfect campaign, he wins. If he stumbles, people will turn to Dole."
Bush was recently supposed to serve as the grand marshal at a NASCAR race before 100,000 people in New Hampshire. When a scheduling conflict forced Bush to cancel, Dole eagerly took his place.
Despite her campaign troubles, in the latest CNN polls, Dole still runs second to Bush among Republican voters nationally and here in New Hampshire. And in a hypothetical two-way race, she still beats Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential front-runner.
But she is in a distant second place, trailing Bush by more than 30 points. And there's no indication that Dole will come anywhere near narrowing Bush's fund-raising lead when the third quarter ends this month. One Dole adviser described the fund-raising as slow going in July and August.