On The Road Again

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SAN DIEGO: After a nomination acceptance speech which at times had both Bob Dole and audience members in tears, the GOP presidential candidate is ready for what running mate Jack Kemp predicts will be a "barn burner of a campaign." Dole entered the final phase of his run in San Diego Friday with the declaration that his campaign considered every state a battleground. "We will take our message across America," he told 300 GOP delegates the morning after he accepted the nomination. First up: appearances in four states that Dole views as critical to his re-election chances. He will make campaign stops in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, four states that Clinton won in 1992 and that Dole, if he is to have any chance at winning the presidency, needs to either win or make Clinton work hard to keep. As he enters his 81-day sprint for the presidency, Dole appears relaxed and ready. At Friday morning's GOP event, Dole's face was absolutely relaxed and if possible even tanner than the night before. Even the backs of his hands were a deep walnut brown. He joked about his Thursday night speech: "I came 20 minutes early because I don't have to practice my speech any more." For now, though, Dole is officially at the head of an uphill struggle. Recent polling numbers reflect a convention-spurred bounce that puts the Dole ticket only 10 or 12 points behind Clinton's campaign. But President Clinton will get his chance to widen that lead when the Democratic convention begins in Chicago August 26. Some of the campaign battle lines are already manifest in the nationwide thrust-parry-counterthrust of TV campaign commercials. A new Clinton ad timed for the end of the Republican convention says Dole would cut Medicare by $270 million, and let toxic polluters "off the hook." The GOP will respond shortly with a massive series of ads of its own. Of the $62 million dollars in federal campaign funds the Dole campaign received after the convention, some $41 million is set aside for TV ads, meaning those who miss one of Dole or Clinton's campaign stops will be able to follow the campaign from their spots in front of the TV. -->