WASHINGTON, D.C.: Bob Dole is in a bind. Just as he was planning on a hard campaign in Midwestern swing states, the Southern territory that Republicans have long taken for granted is slipping. A few days after the GOP rejoiced that Dole had closed the polling gap with President Clinton from the double digits to 6 percentage points, a New York Times/CBS poll shows that Clinton enjoys an overall lead of 6 percentage points in Dixie. "The only reason a few more Southerners, who are traditionally solidly Republican, are open to Clinton now is because he is a Southerner, regardless of the fact that he has alienated the South on issues like gays in the military," says TIME Washington correspondent James Carney. "But even if he ends up losing those states, he still wins by forcing Dole to spend money on states that should be in the bag." Dole's lead in the South has deteriorated as he has tried to move to the center to capture votes in the West and Midwest. Carney contends that Dole must move back to the right to get Southern voters excited about him again: "But if he does that, he risks alienating the rest of the country's voters who are more moderate. Either way, Dole is in real trouble." L.A.H.