The Sometimes Shaky Politics of Civility

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LYNDHURST, New Jersey: Trailing by double-digits in the polls with less than a month until election day, Bob Dole has decided to try a little less tenderness. On a campaign swing through New Jersey, Dole said he would hit harder at President Clinton's ethics in next Wednesday's Presidential debate in San Diego. Dole responded to a shouted plea for him to "Get Bozo out of the White House," with "Bozo's on his way out." The feisty remark signals a harsher turn in Dole's campaign style as he is seen to be running out of time to make a dent in Clinton's support. Dole said he was ready to "go back at it" with Clinton, and was willing to mention the Whitewater investigation and the FBI files scandal. His remarks prompted Clinton deputy campaign manager Ann Lewis to say, "I guess this means the era of civility lasted a day and a half." Meanwhile, more bad news descended on the Dole camp with staunch Republican Pat Robertson beginning to sound like a partisan Democrat. Last month he told the Christian Coalition's annual conference that only a "miracle from Almighty God" could save Bob Dole's presidential bid. On Tuesday, he was openly predicting a blowout in Clinton's favor. Couple this with a performance in Sunday's debate that won Dole a jump in favorable impression numbers but very few votes, and it looks like Dole may have to come out swinging next week in San Diego if he hopes to make up any ground at all. The risk, of course, is that the politics of confrontation may turn off more voters than they attract. -->