The Rug Pulled Out

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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire was supposed to be the place where Bob Dole's elegantly constructed campaign machinery paid off. After Colin Powell declined to enter the field, there seemed to be no one who could credibly challenge Dole's impressive array of endorsements, financial backing and a collection of favors stored up in his more than 35 years of party service in Congress. Yet as polling concludes in New Hampshire, Dole finds himself finishing second between two very different challengers in Pat Buchanan and Lamar Alexander. "All of a sudden, everything has been turned around," reports TIME's Tamala Edwards from New Hampshire. "The rug has clearly been pulled out from under Dole." Despite the Buchanan win, the real enemy for Dole may be Alexander. "A lot of the Dole campaign's energy has been focused on pushing Alexander out of the race. If they could do that on the national level, they could then say, well, Pat Buchanan's a nice guy, he's got some good ideas, but he's not someone you could elect president. The problem for Dole is that Alexander is punching back, and doing a good job." Alexander's consistent theme this week has been that he is the candidate of new ideas, Dole is the candidate of no ideas and Buchanan is the candidate of wrong ideas. Alexander's criticism is especially devastating to a candidate who is deeply suspicious of ideas and is campaigning as the candidate of tested leadership. "The problem for Dole, as anybody knows who has listened to him, is that Alexander is so right it hurts," says Edwards.