Taking The High Road To The Polls

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OTTUMWA, IOWA: Watching his once-formidable lead narrow under the steady onslaught of Steve Forbes, Bob Dole has decided the high road is the best route in the final days before Monday's Iowa caucuses. Instead of attacking his opponents, Dole preached the virtues of experience and conservative leadership to a crowd of supporters in Ottumwa. On Thursday, his tracking polls showed his support hovering around 22 percent. A strong late push had Pat Buchanan tied with Steve Forbes at 16 percent, and Lamar Alexander was running fourth at 12. The big surprise of the week came from Buchanan, who got a big bounce in the polls after his surprise defeat of Phil Gramm Tuesday in the Louisiana caucuses. Buchanan's jump was good news for the Dole campaign, which is counting on Buchanan to challenge Forbes for second place. For his part, Forbes stumbled Friday when he accused GOP rivals of misrepresenting his positions and said the Christian Coalition "does not speak for most Christians." The Forbes remarks could be a crucial misstep in a state where the Christian Coalition is stuffing voters guides into church programs this Sunday. Dole was quick to take advantage: "Maybe establishment politicians like Steve Forbes and Bill Clinton are uncomfortable with religious conservatives," he said. "They think people of faith have no place in politics but they are wrong. Today America's greatest challenges are moral and cultural."