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THE JAUNDICED EYE : Dole's Olympian Feats

July 21, 1996|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker

NEW YORK — Blaming "a pro-Roosevelt media more vindictive than Kaiser Bill" for putting his remarks in context, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole refused again today to modify his recent controversial statements on key issues.

While his incendiary comments about nicotine addiction and other sensitive matters were still reverberating among the electorate, Dole reportedly sent out the call, in an Atlanta news conference late last week, to "keep the Olympic Games American" and begin running sweeps of illegal aliens in the Olympic Village.

And addressing a Friends of the Auricles and Ventricles conference just yesterday, the veteran GOP politico startled his audience by promising "a steak, a martini and a carton of Luckies on every table" if he is elected.

Meanwhile, Dole's answer to pollution--learn to take fewer breaths--and to global warming--higher ice production in American refrigerators--has stirred only confusion in scientific circles. But not as much confusion as his ringing defense of the National Rifle Assn. in a keynote address at the group's annual Trigger-Happy Ball. Gunshot fatalities, he noted, "would all eventually be dead one way or another, anyhow;" and besides, he claimed, citing NRA findings, "death by gunfire ranks a distant 12th among the most painful ways to go. If you're talking pain, try getting garroted. And I don't see any bleeding-heart organizations calling for a ban on bastinado, for example. Talk about a double standard."

There appears to be no let-up in the Republican challenger's flurry of surprising approaches to the major issues of the day. In what is being billed as a major foreign-policy address, for example, Dole will reportedly go on record as favoring an unorthodox summit conference with Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin: He intends to recommend putting Yeltsin and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a hotel room with a case of bourbon for a weekend and see what happens.

Elizabeth Dole, the candidate's wife, has described as "a misquote deliberately reported by the media" her husband's call for American marriage vows to be amended so that the bride promises to love, honor and obey and serve up three squares a day; while the groom vows to split all poker earnings 50-50.

Even choosing a running mate has wreathed Dole in controversy. His admission that he has not ruled out Michigan Rep. Gerald R. Ford caused audible gasps among the audience at the annual Alf Landon Cookout in Lawrence, Kan. But there is little doubt that the plain-spoken veteran has incited the most passionate response--pro and con--of all his campaign rhetoric with the statement, before the infant-lobbying Goo-Goo Caucus, that "the largest group of welfare loafers, by far, are babies. Lie around, eat 10 times a day, pay no taxes, give nothing back for their free ride but burps."*

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