Dole Gets Lapped

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Has Bob Dole's campaign hit quicksand? Monday, MSNBC reported that the gap between Dole and Clinton had widened to 25 points. Although that figure may be an aberration from other polls, which put Clinton ahead of Dole by 13 to 15 percent, says TIME political contributor Laurence Barrett, it's clear that Dole is not gaining popularity. "Dole is letting himself get bogged down in peripheral issues," says Barrett. "He needs to come out with a positive message on what he wants to do. Dole has never been good at looking at the big picture, and that's hurting his campaign. Take the tobacco issue: Dole doesn't support smoking, but somehow he misspoke himself into a controversy that lasted several days." Despite Dole's recent problems, Barrett says he still has ample time to get in the saddle. The Republican convention is still weeks way, and Dole has yet to name his running mate and more clearly spell out his policies. "In the summer of 1988, Dukakis was ahead of Bush, and in the summer of 1992," Barrett notes, "Clinton had only just begun pulling ahead." -- Anita Hamilton