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Now for the Tough Questions

February 17, 1988

Well, that's over. The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries have served their limited roles. Generally, local favorites won--as Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis did among Democratic voters in New Hampshire Tuesday evening and Vice President George Bush among Republicans--and as Midwesterners won a week earlier in Iowa. The also-rans now are battling for survival rights.

Now it's on to a scattering of caucus and primary events of limited effect and then the giant of the year, the South's Super Tuesday. The candidates will have to shift some gears now and be more cognizant of the demands of voters nationally. Petting pigs and mushing dog sleds will not do it from now on. The broadening of the campaign map should require the candidates to show voters more of what they have to say and think, with less trivial bickering among themselves. While Southern states still share some traditional characteristics, the South no longer is the homogenous unit that it once was thought to be.

Bush comes out of New Hampshire with a needed boost. But he has to do more than say that he's one of them and apologize for not being as articulate as he should be. If Bush wants the highest trust of the American people, to be elected President, he must be more forthright about his role, if any, in the Iran arms-for-hostages deal. He needs to tell Americans more about what a Bush Administration would be like, not just more of what he did during the past eight years.

Kansas Sen. Bob Dole needs to be more than just the flinty, witty pragmatist who could drive tough bargains in the U.S. Senate. What is his vision of America? How will the nation remain a major player on the world stage as the focus shifts to the Pacific Rim?

Democratic Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri must reconcile his dramatic shift from one-time Washington insider to anti-Establishment populist, and back up his claim that trade protection will strengthen the nation's economy on the world stage. Dukakis needs to be more precise about where the nation should be going and how his program will get it there.

Politicking in small, compact Iowa and New Hampshire was easy and somewhat quaint. Now the real work begins, and the candidates must direct their attention to a much wider audience.

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