Saturday's Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College will be the last time Vice President Bush now plans to share a platform with his rivals in the New Hampshire primary.
The Bush campaign told the League of Women Voters it would not send a representative -- unlike the other campaigns -- to a meeting in Washington today to discuss the format for a debate at St. Anselm's College in Manchester on Sunday, Feb. 14, two days before the primary election.
Andrew Card, Bush's New Hampshire campaign manager, said Bush was scheduled to be in New Hampshire that weekend but added it was "tough to justify" taking time to prepare for a debate "so close to the primary."
Bernard Windon, national campaign manager for Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), said a decision on Dole's participation had not been made, in part because there is a meeting of southern Republicans in New Orleans the same weekend. But Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.), Dole's leading backer in New Hampshire, said, "New Hampshire voters expect all the candidates to participate in the major events in the state."
Rudman noted an irony in the Bush decision: "Eight years ago in Nashua it was supposed to be fair for only George Bush to debate Ronald Reagan. Now, he's saying it should be everybody but Bush."