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The campaign moved Dole's events from large, half-empty venues to smaller sites, mostly high school and college gyms, where the crowds wouldn't seem so sparse. This was the bold advice of Dole's fourth and final message consultant, a Madison Avenue adman named Norman Cohen. Dole had started with a message of downsizing government. Now he was downsizing himself. The campaign's last idea, however, came from the candidate.
"What about an all-out push?" Dole muttered. On Oct. 28, he broached a plan to end his campaign with a four-day, round-the-clock marathon: 19 states in 96 hours. When campaign headquarters faxed Dole a tentative schedule, he scrawled "nonstop, nonstop, nonstop" across it.
Forty-two hours into the run, however, Dole was almost out of gas. After rolling through a Michigan truck stop, a Newark, New Jersey, diner and a Philadelphia nightclub, he found himself in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, free-associating at a noontime rally--from Eisenhower to the war on drugs, from flag burning to Indogate, from partial-birth abortion to Boutros Boutros-Ghali. After months in search of a coherent message, Dole had returned to the splintered themes and message fragments of the primaries. There was only one difference: in March, it was good enough to win.
ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Like Dole, Clinton ended the way he began in early 1996. At every stop on his 18-state final tour, he spoke of unity and "common ground," of meeting challenges together, of "opportunity, responsibility and community." He distilled his first-term accomplishments into a few impressive paragraphs--10.7 million new jobs, 4.5 million new home owners, and on and on in a giddy boast that took flight and soared clear into tomorrow: "Let us build a bridge together, wide enough and strong enough to carry all of us into the bright future that is America in the 21st century." His face was flushed and glowing. He had not slept but was not tired. If he could have, he would have stayed in the moment forever. The messenger was the Message.
--With reporting by Melissa August, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Michael Duffy, J.F.O. McAllister and Viveca Novak/Washington and Tamala M. Edwards with Dole