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Friday, March 8, 1996

Dole Marches Into Atlanta

The Republican party reenacts the War Between the States.

"Get all the reporters on the bus … then drive it off a cliff."
- a campaign organizer

A deadline is staring me in the eyes like a hooded cobra. I've been up for the last five days. Bourbon has replaced beer to keep up this pace. My notebook is filled with gibberish. Columbia, South Carolina began my downfall. I thought I could handle it - but I was wrong.


The South Carolina debate put the WWF to shame. First came the warm-up bouts. A&E opened with the liar episode of their Voyages series. Gallagher followed with a couple of hot lines to keep the viewers warmed up.

Gallagher on a former president: He said, "read my lips" because he was planning to lie through his ass.
Gallagher on a soon to be former president: If he was caught cheating on his wife, he's not the crook we need to run this country.

The main event starts out slow but Dole is showing signs of life. Apparently his campaign staff got their hands on those experimental adrenaline injections I've been hearing about. Buchanan opens with his trademark: "My old friend Beltway Bob." Dole counters with a quick cane to the shins. "I only quoted your columns. Aren't they accurate?"

Things begin to liven up when Forbes slaps Alexander with a few financial smears. Alexander lunges for Forbes' throat. Forbes, biting off a piece of Alexander's ear, spits it out and calls him a liberal. The moderator meekly suggests, "time gentlemen, time." The two combatants turn on him in unison. Tossing him over the top rope into the audience, they return to their melee.

Buchanan turning to Dole. "Isn't this our time for response?" Dole yells "YES!" and whacks Forbes in the head with his cane. Buchanan knees Alexander in the crotch and mumbles something about a Fifth Column and Swiss bank accounts. Shouting, "less government, more freedom," Forbes starts to get up. Dole, explaining "I didn't hear the question," whacks him again. "It's my turn!" He tells the now-prone body.


South Carolina: Gentlemen, start your campaigns.

Forbes, arriving with 60 delegates, sticks to his message of "hope and opportunity," showing a dedication seldom seen outside terrorist cell meetings. After the laughter over his accent and a few calls of "Let's hang the Yankee" die down, Steve launches into his flat-tax speech. Murmurs of "revenuers" run through the crowd. Soon it becomes a chant, "Revenuers! He's talkin' revenuers!" Some of the audience decide Forbes is a good old boy after all and invite him home to see their stills, but it's not enough to keep him from coming in third.

Buchanan begins to sing Dixie (with no noticeable accent). Like a scene from Patton, a large confederate flag rises behind him. The crowd stands and puts hands to hearts. It looks like Pat has this one in the bag until someone in the crowd says, "Hey, look! Who's the babe?"

Bob Dole's adrenaline apparently has worn off. Elizabeth Dole, substituting for her husband, brings the audience to its feet with a stirring speech about a future where we can all marry our cousins. After declaring her queen of the prom, the mob turns to fighting over who gets to be king of the prom. In the confusion, Elizabeth slips out the back, taking enough votes to deliver South Carolina to her husband.

Keyes is outside wearing a "speeches for food" sign. A policeman, mistaking him for a trouble-making panhandler, handcuffs him and shoves him into the back of a patrol car. Noticing the parade of reporters in tow, the cops realize they have a problem and toss him out at the next intersection. A CNN reporter, leading the pack, shouts, "Police harassment!" Allen disappears under a blanket of microphones and cameras.


Junior Super Tuesday: 263 delegates and 10 states watch as the candidates parade on to the stage for the swimsuit competition.

Forbes' tuxedo is impressive but somewhat surprising. It appears a trickster from one of the other campaigns convinced him the swimsuit competition is formal. The northern judges cut him some slack. The southern judges decide he's a city boy and write him off. Forbes comes in third only because the sponsors already bought three ribbons.

Buchanan, dressed only in a red, white, and blue g-string, bares all for everyone. While the southern judges are putting their eyeballs back in the sockets, the northern judges turn the ballets upside down, resulting in 6's instead of 9's.

Dole appears wearing a full-body swimsuit like something out of the roaring twenties. It's white with horizontal black stripes. The judges aren't overwhelmed but agree it is conservative. They hand him the blue ribbon, bow their heads and pray for the Whitewater hearings to resume.


Lugar has been beaten into unconscienceness. His campaign will drop out of the race before he comes to.

Keyes' arrest has given him the most (and probably only) publicity he's seen in this campaign. He isn't a factor but they'll let him give a few speeches.

The word on the street is that Alexander is trying to cut a deal. In return, he'll resign before the next primary.

Buchanan will continue to dog Dole's heels with his 20%-30% support, but won't be able to do any damage unless Dole's campaign makes a serious error.

Forbes, after losing to Dole's powerful political machine in New York, will have real problems getting any support from the tax-loving yuppies in California. If Larry King didn't have a thing for Jane Fonda, he'd move to California just to pay the extra taxes.

Dole has the big "mo" but no money. His campaign spent too much up-front, and is bumping into the federal spending limits. He'll need others to run commercials for him in California. Rumor has it that Elizabeth is having high-level discussions with "Da Mayor" of San Francisco to keep Buchanan off the ticket and out of the convention.


Corrections to last week's column:

  1. Dole finished second in Arizona. I'm not taking the rap for this. CNN can eat its own crow.
  2. The Alexander campaign denies the reporter is young.

Next week's episode: "Dole on a roll."

What can I say? Take a URL and call me in the morning.

The Web Walker

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