Gramm Gets the Message

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WASHINGTON, D. C.: Phil Gramm's well-financed presidential campaign limped to a halt Wednesday with the senator telling reporters that his poor showings in Iowa and Louisiana had convinced him he could not win the GOP nomination: "When the voter speaks, I listen, especially when the voter is speaking someone else's name." Gramm's exit brings to an early close a well-organized, nearly two-year old campaign. With an impressive $20-million plus campaignwar chest and several carefully-orchestrated wins in straw polls across the country, Gramm had worked hard to position himself as the conservative alternative to Bob Dole. In recent months, Gramm's standing in the polls had dwindled to single digits, a decline he had explained by saying: "The people don't know me yet." A constant problem for a senator who was perceived by many to be meanspirited and too small for the presidency was that less than half those polled who knew of him had a favorable impression. In the end, despite spending nearly all of his $20 million war chest, Gramm found himself outflanked by Pat Buchanan in a Louisiana caucus that he had expected win easily before finishing a disappointing fifth in Iowa. Although Gramm in bowing out refrained from endorsing a GOP candidate, he promised to work against the protectionist stance of his nemesis Buchanan, whose unexpectedly strong campaign has siphoned off a number of potential Gramm supporters.
The SpoilsMANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: As Phil Gramm left the race, the remaining candidates rushed in to lay claim to the senator's supporters -- and his fundraising machine. Pat Buchanan, who expects to benefit most from Gramm's withdrawal, reached out to Gramm's conservative base: "I have won the battle of Mr. Conservative in the Republican Party," Buchanan said while campaigning in New Hampshire. "Our campaign is wide open to you. We cannot win without you." Meanwhile, sister and campaign manager Bay Buchanan worked the phones. She told reporters she had already raised $200,000 through calls to former Gramm supporters and expected to take in $1 million in the next two weeks. Lamar Alexander's cash-starved campaign also hopes for a windfall. Gramm's absence means new fund-raising opportunities in former Gramm strongholds Texas, Florida and Georgia.