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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dole Sweep Sends Opponents Packing

WASHINGTON -- Senator Robert Dole's victory in eight U.S. Republican primaries brought predictions of a sure nomination Wednesday. Even chief rival Pat Buchanan agreed Dole's capture of the Republican bid "appears inevitable," but he pledged to stay in the race.

As Senate majority leader Dole, 72, flew to Texas to pick up the endorsement of Governor George W. Bush -- and the blessings of his father, former President George H. Bush -- two more rivals for the nomination were set to pull out.

Former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and moderate Senator Richard Lugar were making their exit announcements later Wednesday.

Dole supporters called for party unity, but Buchanan, a conservative commentator who has never held office, continued his sharp attacks.

Multimillionaire publisher Steve Forbes, riding high on a wave of expensive television advertising just a week ago, was limping Wednesday after a round of disappointing primary finishes.

Forbes sparked questions about his future plans Wednesday when he canceled his morning events in New York state and scheduled an afternoon news conference to make "a major announcement." But spokeswoman Gretchen Morgenson said not to read too much into the announcement, reminding reporters he has said he is in for the long haul.

Dole's clean sweep of all eight "Junior Tuesday" states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, Georgia and Colorado -- severely wounded Buchanan and Forbes, and many party figures said that Dole had a lock on the nomination.

"It's over," Republican pollster Bob Teeter said, surveying Dole's sweep.

All told, Dole added 199 delegates Tuesday to the 91 that he had won earlier, giving him 290 of the 996 needed to win nomination. Forbes is a distant second, with 72 delegates. Buchanan has 62.

With a variety of matchups on primary ballots, the returns Tuesday looked like this:

?In Georgia, Dole had 40 percent, Buchanan 31 percent, Alexander 13 and Forbes 11.

?The New England states were solid for Dole. He picked up 47 percent of the vote in Massachusetts, with Buchanan next at 26. In Connecticut, Dole had 54 percent and Forbes 20. In Vermont, it was 41 percent for Dole, with Buchanan, Forbes and Lugar all in the teens. In Maine, Dole had 46 percent, Buchanan 25 and 15 for Forbes.

?In Maryland, Dole had 55 percent and Buchanan 19.

?In Colorado, Dole was handily beating Alexander.

?In the nation's smallest state, Rhode Island, he was ahead of both Forbes and Buchanan by more than 2-to-1.

Dole predicted he would pick up 90 percent of the delegates in Thursday's New York primary.

Despite his admission of Dole's inevitable victory, Buchanan promised to carry his conservative message across the country, calling Dole's campaign "hollow, an empty vessel."

"We think we can fill that vessel up with our ideas if he is the nominee," Buchanan said, referring to the party platform.