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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gingrich Endorses Revived Dole

Combined Reports

ATLANTA, Georgia -- Senator Bob Dole, happily the front-runner again after a big win in South Carolina, hinted that this week's contests could seal the U.S. Republican presidential nomination.

In another boost to Dole's confidence Monday, the candidate received a public endorsement from House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Dole's fellow Republican and congressional colleague, who had previously refused to disclose whom he supported when he cast his absentee ballot in Georgia, ended the speculation Monday.

"Bob Dole is a close personal friend and great leader. Together we passed the balanced budget, tax cuts and welfare reform, which, when he is president, will all be signed into law," Gingrich said in a terse written statement.

But Dole's top three rivals were not daunted by his recent success, saying his skipping another televised debate is proof he's not the Republican to challenge President Bill Clinton in the fall.

It was one point of agreement during an occasionally testy, hour-long exchange. While Dole skipped the WSB-TV forum Sunday night, another Republican contender -- Alan Keyes -- was arrested trying to get in.

"There are still about four candidates around. I think if we do very well on Tuesday, there won't be but one around. And that might be me," Dole told a veterans rally in Towson, Maryland, late Sunday. He was to campaign in Georgia on Monday.

Dole suggested that other Republican candidates might want to consider folding their campaigns if he sweeps primaries this week. Eight states, including Georgia, vote on Tuesday, followed by New York's primary on Thursday, where 93 delegates will be selected -- the biggest single-state trove of delegates to date. Polls show Dole ahead in all nine states.

The Senate majority leader, after a rocky start in Iowa and losses in New Hampshire and Arizona, retook the lead Saturday with a commanding win in South Carolina. Dole got 45 percent of the vote compared with television commentator Pat Buchanan's 29 percent, publisher Steve Forbes' 13 percent and former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander's 10 percent.

But Dole's suggestion that he's got the Republican race close to nailed down found few subscribers Sunday night among his three opponents.

All three scored Dole for his absence. "There is one candidate who can stand up to President Clinton. It's not Senator Dole, who can't even stand up here," Buchanan said.

And Alexander said of Dole, "He's supposed to be here tonight. ... And he's supposed to be compared with us."

Just before the debate began, longshot candidate Keyes was taken away from the debate site by Atlanta police. Keyes was not invited but tried to enter the studio anyway. "You have no right," Keyes protested, as supporters chanted "Let him speak!"

Both Forbes and Buchanan said they were sorry Keyes was not invited.

For his part, Dole hinted at campaign appearances Sunday in Maryland that other Republican rivals might want to reassess their campaigns if he does well in Tuesday's races. It appeared to be a gentle prod aimed mostly at Alexander, but also at Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana.


At a rally, Dole said: "If we do well on Tuesday, it will encourage at least some in the race it's time to go."

He added pointedly that he had probably hung on too long in 1988 after losing early contests to George Bush.

Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont hold primaries on Tuesday.

During the Atlanta debate, Forbes and Alexander slammed Buchanan's call for high tariffs on Japanese, Chinese and certain other foreign-made goods, arguing they would amount to tax increases for American consumers.