Dole debacles drag him deeper into trouble

This was when his presidential campaign was supposed to roll. Instead, Republican candidate Bob Dole has inflicted upon himself a new series of small disasters, horrifying his advisers and prompting a number of Congressional Republicans to break ranks with their nominee to avoid being dragged down to defeat this autumn.

In the first week of July, Mr Dole succeeded in deepening his party's split over abortion and getting on the wrong side of the smoking argument by suggesting that tobacco might not neccessarily be addictive. Now he has dug two more pits and fallen into each of them: first by resurrecting the controversy over the ban on assault weapons, which is a sure winner for President Bill Clinton, and then by seeming to snub the country's leading black organisation.

Publicly, the Dole camp insists it was a "scheduling problem" that prevented him addressing the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in North Carolina last week. There matters might have rested - until Mr Dole said he feared he was being "set up" for a hostile reception at the traditionally pro-Democrat NAACP.

The consequence, as so often in Mr Dole's rambling mode of stump politics, was to turn a minor squall into a tempest, made only fiercer by criticism from arguably the two most popular Republicans in the country, the former Congressman and Cabinet member, Jack Kemp, and retired General Colin Powell.

Indeed, "disappointment" at Mr Dole's no-show seems only to have hardened General Powell's determination to stay as clear of the 1996 campaign as possible. That he would refuse to be Mr Dole's vice-presidential running mate has been a foregone conclusion for months. Now he has made it clear that he will not campaign actively for Mr Dole, and has no desire to play a feature role at next month's nominating convention in San Diego.

Given the pressure being put upon him by anxious Republican leaders, General Powell has little choice but to speak in San Diego. But the fuss around him only draws attention from Mr Dole.

The polls only confirm the Republicans' sorry state. The latest of them, by CNN-Time, gives Mr Clinton a virtually unchanged lead of 15 per cent. State by state, the picture is even more disheartening, with Mr Clinton far ahead in 25 states that would give him 315 electoral college votes, more than the 270 needed to win. Even in Republican strongholds such as Florida and Texas, the President is neck-and-neck with Mr Dole.

So dire has been Mr Dole's performance that even his former colleagues in Congress are showing signs of rebellion. Mr Dole had hoped to make welfare reform a major issue. Instead Republican Congressmen have agreed to a compromise Bill meeting Mr Clinton's requirements, that may be passed within the month.

If Mr Dole cannot get a grip on his campaign, some predict rebellion could spread to the convention itself. "Bob Dole has run for President three times and still hasn't learnt how," the conservative commentator George Will said yesterday. Another four weeks like the last four, and "there could be serious insurrection in San Diego".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower