Dole To Embark on 96-Hour, Campaign-Closing Blitz
MIAMI (AP) _ Bob Dole, looking for a dramatic climax for his uphill presidential campaign, announced a 96-hour, virtually nonstop final push through 15 states beginning Friday. ``I want to shake up this race,″ he declared.
Trailing badly in the polls with five days to go, Dole also appealed Thursday to Ross Perot’s supporters in his most direct terms yet.
In what could be viewed as a concession that he could not win a three-way race against Clinton, Dole said, ``I can beat one candidate. I can’t beat two. So don’t vote for Ross Perot.″
Aides said that after an overnight stop in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday night, the only hotel pauses before Election Day would be brief, 90-minute stops every 24 hours so Dole and his entourage could freshen up.
Dole will both fly and take long bus trips as part of the coast-to-coast plan, aides said.
``Where’s the map?″ Dole asked aboard his campaign plane, indicating he was ready to go. ``Gonna wear you out,″ he told reporters.
The dramatic travel gesture _ which would dwarf the 30-hour, 10-city blitz that Clinton himself did in 1992 _ came as Dole and his strategists struggled to find a way to invigorate his campaign.
The race has been frozen for months, with Clinton holding a double-digit lead in the polls.
Dole compared the final effort to his wartime fighting in Europe.
``The last time I fought ‘round the clock for my country was in 1945 in Italy,″ Dole said. ``Beginning at noon tomorrow, I will once again fight ’round the clock for America’s future.″
The trip is to take him to 15 states in roughly this order: Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, California, New Mexico and Kansas, with side trips to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Indiana.
``I will not rest until we have made my case to every worker, every family, and every voter,″ Dole declared. ``I am determined to make every hour of this decisive election count.″
The Republican challenger said he would take his campaign ``from the factories of Ohio and Michigan, through the bluegrass of Kentucky, in the towns and neighborhoods of the Midwest, across the Rocky Mountains, through the cities and streets of California.″
Earlier, Dole shared a stage with former President Bush at a rally in a refurbished theater in Tampa.
``What it’s about is leadership,″ asserted Bush, who was defeated by Clinton in 1992. ``I believe in keeping the White House above partisan politics and away from these puny, terrible disputes we’re seeing.″
Bush was to be on some of the bus stops in Ohio and Michigan on Friday, as was former GOP President Ford.
In his Tampa remarks, Dole suggested Clinton may have committed illegal acts in the White House and said the president wasn’t telling the truth on Medicare or any other issue. ``How low will this White House go?″ he asked.
Seeking to bolster support among senior citizens in this pivotal state with 25 electoral votes, Dole also announced he would tap Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York to be co-chairman of a bipartisan commission on Medicare if he is elected.
The commission would be similar to one in 1983 _ also co-chaired by Moynihan _ that helped institute reforms that kept Social Security solvent, Dole said.
Dole aides said that Moynihan had been contacted on Wednesday and had given permission for Dole to use his name. The other co-chairman would be Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., Dole said.
The Republican challenger, 73, said he was ready for the exhausting schedule he was setting _ though he conceded clean clothes could be a problem.
``We’re going to stop at an underwear factory,″ he joked.
Campaign spokesman Nelson Warfield said there would be some middle-of-the-night stops, but he suggested nights would be used mostly for traveling.
``We’re going to roll through the night and rock around the clock,″ Warfield said.
Dole himself described the trip as ``all day, most of the night″ with some stops ``to change clothes, maybe take a little hour nap.″
Asked if he had enough clothing for the trip, Dole said, ``I’ve got a couple of jackets and they’ll be a little wrinkled by the time we’re finished. So will we.″
Dole said he didn’t know if the surprise tactic would work. ``I have lots of ideas. We’ll see how good this one is about next Tuesday.″
``I think the signal I want to send is that we’re determined, we’re committed. The stakes are very high. And I’m willing to go around the clock to try to demonstrate that point, try to underscore that point. And hopefully the American people will listen.″