WASHINGTON — In an indication that even the safest Republican zones in Southern California need to be revved up before the Nov. 5 election, GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole plans to take a bus tour through Orange and San Diego counties Monday.
Dole is scheduled to appear at a 2 p.m. rally in the parking lot of the Pond in Anaheim. Dole may also stop in Seal Beach before heading to Long Beach, where he will meet up with his vice presidential running mate, Jack Kemp. Dole will stop in San Diego before Orange County.
The campaigning in Orange County, one of the most Republican areas in the nation, follows stops this week in Alabama, traditionally one of the most Republican states in presidential elections.
"It's to energize the final get-out-the-vote effort for his home turf in Orange County," said Bill Christensen, the executive director of the Orange County GOP.
There is evidence Dole may need it.
A Times Poll this week indicated Dole was behind Clinton by 20 percentage points in California. Earlier polls have shown Clinton and Dole running even in Orange County--a bleak forecast for Republicans, who in order to carry California count on a two-thirds majority in Orange County to offset Democratic strongholds in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at Claremont Graduate School, said she believes the Dole visit is meant to energize Republican voters and ensure the GOP doesn't lose important congressional and state legislative races.
"It's no longer about Dole" winning, Jeffe said. "It's all about [winning] Congress and the state Assembly and to get out the vote."
Jim Toledano, Orange County Democratic Party chairman, surmised Dole is looking to appease the county's wealthy Republicans, who are major donors to the national party, and also to keep Clinton from becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt to carry Orange County.
Such an outcome, Toledano said, "would be a black eye for all of these wealthy Republicans."
The size of the turnout for Dole's rally will be watched as closely as the turnout on election day. Organizers are hoping for 10,000.
Immediately following the GOP national convention in San Diego, Dole and Kemp drew about 3,000 at their stop in Costa Mesa. Last week, Clinton was greeted by a crowd of 10,000 in front of the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana.
In addition to the moderates leaning toward Clinton, according to recent polls, the Dole campaign needs to energize conservatives such as Barbara Coe of Huntington Beach.
Coe, leader of the campaign for Proposition 187, the 1994 California measure to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants, said she will vote for Dole but said her "level of enthusiasm is not exactly . . . a 10." The reason: She remains dissatisfied with Dole's selection of Kemp as his running mate because of his opposition to Proposition 187.
But prominent California conservative Bruce Herschensohn--who also took issue with Kemp's opposition to Proposition 187--said he is "passionate for Jack being vice president" and predicts that conservatives will fall in line.
Kemp's past positions on immigration and affirmative action are not the criteria "of whether or not you are going to be for the person in terms of the presidential election," Herschensohn added.