Sunday, March 24

Dole prevails in Iowa with 26 percent


Dole prevails in Iowa with 26 percent

Buchanan finishes second in caucus as Gramm, Forbes slip

By Phillip Carter

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Senate Republican leader Bob Dole kicked off the race for the
GOP’s presidential nomination last night with a not-so-resounding
victory over conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, who charged
into second place fresh from an upset victory in Louisiana over
Texas Sen. Phil Gramm.

With 96 percent of Iowa’s ballots counted, Dole led with 26
percent; Buchanan had 23 percent. Rounding out the top three was
former-Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, with 18 percent.

Though Iowa’s results gave a boost to Dole, Buchanan and
Alexander, last night’s vote came as a considerable setback to
Gramm and millionaire publishing heir Steve Forbes. Both remained
locked in a battle for fourth place late into the night, with
Forbes and Gramm running a distant fourth and fifth, at 10 and 9
percent respectively.

For Dole’s campaign, Iowa was regarded as friendly territory, so
success there was deemed both assured and essential to his hopes
for victory in November.

"Iowa means less for him than for others, because Iowa is a
neighboring state, a farm state and a state in which he was known
pretty well," UCLA political science Professor Thomas Schwartz
said. "So Iowa was more his to lose than his to win."

Long considered the favorite, Dole expressed cautious optimism
over his 26 percent of the caucus vote, saying that the long fight
for the presidency had just begun.

"We withstood a barrage of millions and millions and millions of
dollars of negative advertising and came out on top," Dole told
supporters at a victory rally on Monday night. "Now, it is on to
New Hampshire on the road to conservative change in the White
House."

Across the state, Buchanan jubilantly celebrated his strong
showing in a gathering of party faithful dominated by the Christian
Coalition, the backbone of Buchanan’s campaign organization.

"There’s only one conservative left in this race," said Bay
Buchanan, the candidate’s sister and campaign manager. "We now go
to New Hampshire with clear proof we can win this nomination."

But Alexander seemed to benefit most from the Iowa caucus,
according to UCLA experts, even more so than Buchanan.

"Buchanan is like Forbes: Given his background and experience,
he’s obviously not going to win the nomination, because certainly
(he cannot) win the presidency," said Schwartz, an expert in
political game theory.

"(Alexander) is the guy who’s likely to pick up the pieces when
others falter, especially Dole," Schwartz added.

The self-proclaimed political outsider had floundered until now
in the pre-caucus campaign. Invigorated with political momentum,
Alexander seemed poised to become the primary challenger to Dole,
because of Buchanan’s ultra-conservative positions and inability to
command broad support.

Additionally, Alexander capitalized on increasing ambivalence
among GOP voters towards Forbes, particularly his flat-tax
platform.

"If we had the flat tax in our (Republican) platform, we’d have
just about as many members as the flat earth society," said
Alexander in a last-minute campaign stop yesterday.

Monday was a disappointing night for Forbes in particular, who
had spent $4 million of his estimated $462 million fortune on
television advertising in Iowa, mostly to attack Dole. Until Monday
night, Forbes had been cast in the role of contender for the GOP
nomination, making him the most potent challenge to Dole’s
candidacy.

In recent weeks, Forbes’ popularity surged in response to his
advocacy of the flat tax and a heavy media campaign, which
saturated both Iowa and New Hampshire’s airwaves for weeks. But
Forbes’ luck ran out last week, when his popularity bubble burst in
a withering fusillade of attacks by other GOP candidates.

Nonetheless, Forbes remained optimistic on Monday night,
re-emphasizing his "4-3-2-1" strategy, which called for coming
fourth in Iowa, third in New Hampshire’s primary next week, second
in Delaware, then first in the Feb. 27 primary in Arizona, where he
enjoys front-runner status in the polls.

Forbes attributed his precipitous decline in the polls to a
steady attack by other politicians and the news media.

"The whole political establishment is after me," he declared in
suburban Des Moines. "They know I mean what I say."

Despite his lackluster showing, experts at UCLA seemed to give
Forbes the benefit of the doubt, saying that his immense fortune
would help him remain in the race when others might have dropped
out.

"Forbes has money, which will give him staying power beyond what
most candidates have," said UCLA’s Zaller. "After you lose a
primary, you can’t raise money effectively anymore."

While Republican candidates stalked Iowa’s plains for votes,
President Clinton took a lower key approach, flying in this weekend
to make a formal appearance in the uncontested Democratic caucus.
Mostly running on his record from three years in office, Clinton
emphasized fiscal issues while campaigning in the farm state, which
has enjoyed a strong economic rebound

"We have all-time high exports, which is one of the reasons that
corn and soybeans and wheat are at high prices now," Clinton told
supporters on Sunday, adding that jobs are up, inflation is down
and farmers have cause to be happy.

But with stagnant wages and many American concerned about the
future, Clinton left Iowa voters with sobering advice which is
quickly becoming his campaign trademark.

"Don’t be discouraged," he counseled. "We are going through a
period of change as profound as anything that’s happened in 100
years."Comments to [email protected]db.asucla.ucla.edu

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