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BUSH PLEDGES ELECTION AID FOR FORMER RIVAL DOLE.

Byline: Associated Press

Repaying an old political debt, former President Bush on Friday vowed to actively campaign for GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole this fall. ``My heart lies in this,'' he asserted.

Bush's determination to give all-out active support was evident from the start of their meeting here, when Bush stood in a heavy rain at a local airport to greet Dole personally.

``Barbara and I and all the Bushes are in unanimous, enthusiastic agreement that America needs Bob Dole's character, his courage, his decency and his common sense,'' Bush told reporters after the two met at Bush's oceanside home.

Bush said he hadn't given Dole any specific advice about the campaign - but would if asked.

``I'll do anything Senator Dole wants me to do,'' Bush said.

Although the two were bitter rivals in 1988, Bush praised Dole for standing by him as Senate minority leader during his presidency and said he wanted to return the favor and the loyalty.

``My heart lies in this . . . at this level (active campaigning), at the Dole level, and I'll do anything they ask me to do,'' Bush said.

For his part, Dole warmly welcomed Bush's support.

Bush, who saw his ``no new taxes'' pledge in his 1988 acceptance speech return to haunt him after he supported a 1990 tax increase, was asked if Dole was walking into a similar minefield if he promises a massive tax cut in his own campaign.

``Not if he plays it right,'' Bush said. ``I'm confident that Senator Dole will engage in fiscal sanity.''

Bush admitted ``I paid a price'' for going back on his no-new-taxes pledge. But he said he thinks he's still getting a bum rap from President Clinton on economic policy.

``I don't want to sound defensive, but we handed him an economy growing at 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter (of 1992),'' Bush said. ``That was not recession. That was not out of touch.''

Then, Bush added, ``That did sound defensive, didn't it.''

In addition to greeting Dole in the rain at nearby Sanford, Maine, Airport, Bush shook hands with every passenger who got off Dole's campaign plane, some of them reporters who had covered him in the White House.

Dole and Bush were bitter rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 1988. Dole long carried a grudge against a Bush campaign ad's depiction of him as ``Sen. Straddle'' on taxes in the New Hampshire primary, which Dole lost to Bush.

However, Dole put the hard feelings aside and later as Senate minority leader became one of Bush's most loyal supporters.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Bob and Elizabeth Dole visited Kennebunkport, Maine, where he picked up the endorsement of former President Bush.

Associated Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 27, 1996
Words:451
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