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Simon Vows to Stay in Race to Convention

February 19, 1988|Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Paul Simon set aside his qualms about early disappointments and said today "I'm in it until the finish line in Atlanta," as Republican Bob Dole derided the now two-man GOP debate in Dallas tonight as "a Bush pep rally."

An invigorated Simon, encouraged by an outpouring of cash and support, changed his mind about needing a win in Minnesota or South Dakota next Tuesday to stay in the race.

"Candidly, I was at first frustrated by the razor-thin margins that separated me from victory in Iowa and New Hampshire," the Illinois senator said in Minneapolis. "I was tempted to bow to the conventional wisdom. . . . This is a marathon race for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and I'm in it until the finish line in Atlanta."

Coordination Denied

In Florida, Dole denied he and fellow Republican Pat Robertson coordinated their decision to skip tonight's Dallas debate, leaving only George Bush and Jack Kemp to share the stage with two empty chairs.

Dole said his campaign received only 60 of the 2,600 tickets available, leading him to the conclusion that the forum in the vice president's one-time home state would be "a Bush pep rally."

Debate organizers said the campaigns were all allotted the same number of tickets, and criticized Dole, saying he had lobbied Robertson to stay away too.

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