CAMPAIGN '96: PEERING THROUGH THE SMOKE

SPECIOUS CLAIMS AND STRANGE MASCOTS HAVE TURNED THE RACE TO FARCE AT TIMES. BUT THERE ARE SERIOUS LESSONS TOO. WILL THE CANDIDATES LEARN THEM?

Elizabeth Dole's face was ready to shatter. She was sitting next to her husband while he argued with Katie Couric about smoking--and then argued some more, and some more. "I'm not certain whether it's addictive," Bob Dole insisted, like a mule-stubborn father who won't concede that his smart-aleck daughter is right. Why did Dole dig in so hard on the losing side of the smoking debate? He went through hell to quit the habit, and he used to get into fights with his first wife about her chain-smoking. He even lost his own brother to emphysema--so why play Mr. Tobacco on...

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