Dole sharpens attacks but still trails in polls


AS THE election campaign enters its last week, the Republican candidate, Mr Bob Dole, has sharpened his attacks on President Clinton but still trails him by double digit figures in the opinion polls.

The USA Today/CNN daily tracking poll shows the President at 52 per cent and Mr Dole at 35 per cent, virtually the same as when the poll began on September 5th. The Reform Party candidate, Mr Ross Perot, is at 8 per cent - well below the 19 per cent he reached in the 1992 presidential elect ion.

Mr Perot has joined Mr Dole in attacking Mr Clinton on the so called "ethical" issues, saying: "You should never let anybody be president of the United States who does not have a strong moral ethical base."

Mr Perot also gave Mr Dole a guarded endorsement when he said that if the electorate was limited to choosing between Mr Clinton and Mr Dole, it should choose the Republican challenger.

But Mr Perot, who has already rejected an appeal from the Dole campaign to stand down in favour of Mr Dole, continues to insist that he will stay in the race.

President Clinton appears so sure of re election next Tuesday that he is campaigning in states like Virginia where a Democrat has not won for over 30 years. He is also continuing to act presidential and appeal to women voters by approving a further $30 million for research into breast cancer.

Mr Clinton yesterday announced that the budget deficit under his presidency has sunk to $107 billion or the lowest figure in 22 years when inflation is taken into account.

He has warned voters that Mr Dole's proposed IS per cent across the board tax cut would "blow a hole" in the plan to eliminate the deficit by 2002.

Campaigning in California where he says he can win its 54 electoral college votes, Mr Dole stepped up his personal attacks on President Clinton accusing him of turning the White House into "an animal house". He said that the Clintons "fail in every test" as guardians of the public trust.

Mr Dole has also been scolding the media for what he claims is their failure to investigate the recent revelations about improper fundraising by the Democrats. He apparently ignores the fact that these revelations were first uncovered by the media.

Mr Dole has been particularly scathing of the New York Times, which has now formally endorsed President Clinton for re election in a lengthy editorial as "the best candidate in the field and in the belief that because he has grown in the job he can build on the successes of his first term while correcting its defects".