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  Dole Endorsed by Phoenix Mayor

By Scott Thomsen
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Oct. 8, 1999; 7:58 p.m. EDT

PHOENIX –– Elizabeth Dole, the latest Republican presidential candidate to ignore Arizona Sen. John McCain's claim on his home state, won the endorsement of Phoenix's mayor Friday and declared no interest on being on anyone else's ticket.

"Don't even talk to me about No. 2," Dole said. "I'm running for president and I'm in it to win."

Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza said he is backing Dole because he respects her integrity and her accomplishments when she was labor secretary, transportation secretary and president of the American Red Cross. He is to lead Dole's Arizona campaign.

"I know many of the candidates and my candidate is Elizabeth Dole," Rimsza said.

Dole's husband has been calling supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush and asking them to help her campaign.

Those who have talked to former Sen. Bob Dole say they have been asked whether Bush would view her candidacy as hostile if she continued into the primary season – a statement interpreted by some Bush backers as a veiled inquiry into her viability as a vice presidential candidate.

The Bush supporters, with the knowledge of the governor's presidential campaign, have told the former senator that Bush would not be troubled by her campaign's continuing through Iowa and New Hampshire.

There was no evidence that the ex-senator was discussing a possible exit from the campaign, but some Dole advisers believe his calls may have prompted the rash of speculation over the past week that she was leaving the race.

Dole herself asserted, "We're in the race, we're running hard," after a $200-a-person fund-raising event.

Dole noted Arizona's election of five women to statewide office, including governor. "Certainly with the history of the 'Fab Five' we're going to continue to make history," she said.

An associate close to Bob Dole characterized the phone calls as that of a longtime Republican reaching out to his vast network of friends in the party to ask them to give money to his wife's campaign. The associate spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dole's Arizona visit Friday was her fourth. She is one of three out-of-state Republican hopefuls to make high-profile stops in the state.

Publishing mogul Steve Forbes, who won the Arizona primary in 1996, campaigned in Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix last month. Bush picked up the endorsement of Arizona Gov. Jane Hull during his recent visit.

Arizona State University pollster Bruce Merrill said McCain may not have to worry about challenges from Dole and Forbes in the campaign for the state's Feb. 22 primary, but that he is vulnerable to Bush.

"If he comes in and wins, it really is putting a silver stake in McCain's heart," he said.

Republican consultant Ed Mahe said the candidates may be trying to weaken McCain by forcing him to spend money at home. At the same time, they want to be in a position to pick up the state if he falters.

McCain said he welcomes the challengers.

"I'm confident we'll have our vote out," he said. "We'll do just fine.

"I'm glad George W. is going to spend millions in Arizona. It's wonderful for our economy."

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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