The Race is On

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WASHINGTON: Oh no . . . With the election only 39 months away, the 2000 field may now have its first candidate who is not named Gore. Conservative Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft is schmoozing with media consultants, talking with conservative grassroots groups and planning visits to New Hampshire and Louisiana as he mulls a bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Next stop :a chat with Trent Lott to discuss his ambitions. With support from conservatives and the religious right, Ashcroft may have a shot. Certainly, he and Bill Weld would make for a great debate.