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MARATHON MEN : DOLE SAYS ETHICS ISSUE PAYING OFF.

Byline: Brigid Schulte Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

Buoyed by a few hours' sleep, Bob Dole hopscotched through California on Sunday, telling crowds that the energy of his 96-hour marathon campaign is paying off in new momentum.

While his surrogates continued to level blistering criticism at President Clinton and the tactics of the Democrats' fund-raisers, Dole said that his message about the importance of trust was finally paying off.

``The polls are closing,'' Dole insisted at stop after stop. ``The polls are moving our way. People are deciding that character does count. Character does count.''

Dole's running mate, Jack Kemp, picked up the theme at an outdoor ``Bob and Elizabeth's Family Picnic'' in Loma Linda. Surrounded by actress Bo Derek and singing groups the Oakridge Boys and the Osmond Family, Kemp said he'd heard protesters chanting ``Four more years!''

``Can you think of anything more depressing than four more years of Gore, Clinton?'' Kemp asked.

Sounding a bit tired and worn after four hours of sleep and taking cough drops for a sore throat, Dole kept up the theme.

``This is not a game. This is our country,'' he said. ``The White House is not for sale!'' At that some in the crowd yelled, ``The White House is for Dole!''

Gov. Pete Wilson said he hoped the 1,500-strong crowd had had enough hamburgers and hotdogs, because on Tuesday, they'd have a new meal: ``Roast Bubba.''

The effect of nonstop travel and nonstop speeches was sometimes a looser Bob Dole.

``Teachers, union members, everybody, well, not everybody, but a lot of people are coming our way,'' Dole told a cheering crowd of several hundred outside GOP headquarters in San Diego.

After attending a Methodist church service, Dole began his day at a get-out-the-vote phone bank here. One voter told Dole that he, his wife and daughter had already cast absentee ballots for Dole. ``That's three,'' Dole joked into the phone. ``We're ahead.''

While Dole has narrowed Clinton's lead in some recent surveys, a new poll released Sunday showed the president with a 19-point lead over Dole in Florida, a state that Dole must win. Dole staffers were quick to dismiss the finding, in a poll by Florida papers owned by The New York Times.

``That's just crazy,'' said strategist Charlie Black. ``Nobody ever thought we were down by 19 on the worst day of the campaign.''

Although polls have shown Dole trailing by double digits for months and a number of political pundits have written off the election, Dole aides spent the day insisting that things were moving their way.

``It's going to be a dead heat,'' Black said.

``Something's happening out there, I couldn't tell you what,'' said Ken Khachigian, Dole's California campaign adviser. ``But it's going the right way.''

Black said that the midnight campaign was working because it was letting, as his aides so often say, ``Dole be Dole,'' cracking sardonic jokes and mixing it up with voters.

But the second Dole all-nighter on his 96-hour countdown to election day had a surreal quality to it.

It was after 2 a.m. in Las Vegas. Wayne Newton had just warmed up the crowd. A showgirl barely clothed in pink feathers and silver sequins waved a Dole-Kemp sign. Banners were strung across a ballroom at the MGM Grand Hotel reading ``Nevada is Betting on Dole.'' The theme from the movie, ``Rocky'' blared.

Jan Polly, 60, said she hoped Dole could make it through the whole 96 hours.

``This has been such a boost to his campaign,'' she said, ``And I think he looks really handsome for his age and what he's going through.''

In Grand Junction, Colo., a pale yellow half moon hung low on the starry horizon as hundreds of Dole supporters cheered their candidate at an airport rally. Snow lay in strips on the ground.

Dole emerged, looking spry, in a brown leather bomber jacket. His wife, Elizabeth, wore her black leather ``Bikers for Bob'' jacket. He told the crowd if they wanted to win the ``War on the West'' and wanted common sense instead of regulations, to vote for Dole.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO (1 -- color) GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole gets a hug from his wife, Elizabeth, at a telephone bank in San Diego.

(2) GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp gives a pep talk at a phone bank run by U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan, R-Garden Grove.

Associated Press
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 4, 1996
Words:736
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