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Candidates Turning to South After N.H.; Babbitt Ponders Exit

February 17, 1988|Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — Vice President George Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis today pointed their campaigns southward after decisive New Hampshire victories, and Sen. Bob Dole promised to counterattack unless the vice president stops "distorting the Dole record." Bush denied he had done anything wrong.

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, who finished second to Dukakis, said he was in the race to stay. However, Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, third among Democrats in New Hampshire after finishing second in Iowa, said he will have to drop out unless he can win next week in either South Dakota or Minnesota. Former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt said he had "a divided mind" about whether to continue but that Jesse Jackson had already asked for his support if he should drop out.

Dole, the big Republican winner in Iowa last week, said Bush's comeback victory in New Hampshire was at least partly due to Bush TV commercials that Dole said distorted his record.

Won't Run From It

"I'm going to try to go out and straighten it out," he said at the Manchester, N.H., airport before flying back to Washington. "I'm not going to run from it. I'm not known for running from a fight."

Bush, who returned to Washington Tuesday night, was reluctant to talk about Dole's accusation. However, when questioned during a brief exchange with reporters today, he replied, "I think I said it wasn't true, but I'll be glad to say that."

"You all want me to talk about Sen. Dole. I want to talk about the issues," Bush said. "I'm not going to dwell on it, you see, I don't want to be drawn into something like that."

Bush added, "People in New Hampshire like clean campaigns, and they endorsed me overwhelmingly."

Bush Garners 38%

Bush won 38% of the Republican vote--and 11 delegates to the GOP convention--in complete returns. Dole had 29% of the vote and seven delegates. They were followed by Rep. Jack Kemp of New York with 13%, former Delaware Gov. Pierre S. (Pete) du Pont IV with 10% and former television evangelist Pat Robertson, 9%.

Dukakis lived up to expectations by carrying his neighboring state with 36% of the vote--16 percentage points over Gephardt of Missouri, last week's winner in Iowa. Simon came in third with 17%. The other Democratic finishers were Jackson with 8%; Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee, 7%; Babbitt, 5% and former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, 4%.

Dukakis Confident

Dukakis, who won by a big margin in a state bordering his own, said on ABC-TV that he can also do well in the South, which dominates the Super Tuesday primaries on March 8. "People in the South aren't voting for a ZIP code; they're voting for the President of the United States," he said.

Simon said on NBC-TV he would have to win next week, "otherwise, I'm going to have to withdraw. . . . You just can't continue to run second and third."

Gephardt said on ABC that whoever remains in the race, he himself will "do well because we're connecting with the voters on my ideas."

Kemp said his showing proved his standing among the conservatives who form the base for himself, Du Pont and Robertson.

Robertson, on the other hand, said, "This was a small spread between Jack and me." He added, "New England is not my natural constituency. . . . Going into the South, it's a different ball game."

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