Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), still smarting from his second-place finish in New Hampshire and seeking to concentrate his efforts in selected areas of the South, today dropped out of a planned candidates' debate in Dallas that he said could only help Vice President Bush.

After a day off in Washington Wednesday following the New Hampshire primary, the two Republican front-runners were in the South, where the South Carolina primary March 5 and the "Super Tuesday" primaries and caucuses March 8 are the next major items on the political calendar.

Dole decided not to make the trip to Texas -- one of Bush's home states where he is running far ahead in organization and in the polls -- after Bush soundly defeated Dole in New Hampshire, an event that shook Dole's organization and offset the burst of the momentum he gained after trouncing Bush in Iowa.

Dole, insisting "we're not running from anything," said that Bush supporters would have outnumbered his own in the Dallas audience by "600 to 1" on Friday night. Former television evangelist Pat Robertson also dropped out of the debate yesterday, leaving only Bush and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) as participants in what was to be a major campaign event in a state with the most delegates to deliver on Super Tuesday.

Continuing for the consecutive third day his complaints that Bush television ads misrepresented his anti-tax-increases record, Dole arrived in Charlotte, N.C., to announce: "I wanted to get here before the TV ads do and tell you right up front that Bob Dole is not going to raise your taxes," he said. "My record is very good, and we don't need any more tax increases."

In a further challenge to any Bush effort to portray the senator as a tax-increase advocate, Dole's supporters in the Senate held a news conference in Washington to announce that they intend to campaign in Super Tuesday primary states to head off what they called "distortions" of Dole's record in the Senate on taxes and other issues.

"To say that Bob Dole has been anything but a tax-cutter, a deficit-cutter and a fiscal conservative is simply wrong," said Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), who announced the plans.

Bush, meanwhile, drew large, enthusiastic crowds on several stops in the South, telling his audiences, "Whoever wins Super Tuesday will win the presidency."

"Tuesday was a good night for me," Bush told a crowd of 2,300 at Missouri State Southern College in Joplin, Mo. "You may have heard me quoting a fellow Missourian, Mark Twain, who said, 'Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.' "

Then, quoting comedian Woody Allen, Bush added: " 'I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens.' We're alive and well and charging forward, ready to compete."

The Bush campaign moved South, believing it has strong organizations in Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi and North Carolina. "We're going to campaign like hell all over the South," said Bush's press secretary, Peter Teeley.

Bush spent much of the day campaigning in Dole's backyard in southwestern Missiouri, not far from the Kansas border, continuing his direct-to-voter style he resurrected in New Hampshire. He was introduced at each stop by Rep. Gene Taylor (R-Mo.) as "an ordinary American . . . a man with a cool head and a warm heart . . . someone who has his head screwed on right, as we say here in the Ozarks."

Bush, looking tired but obviously buoyed by his New Hampshire victory, didn't mention Dole by name all day. Bush told one local television interviewer that he wanted to "keep my campaign above the fray, no name-calling, keep it on the issues."

He said that in the weeks before Super Tuesday he would "try to spell out the difference between me and the other candidates." He mentioned four major differences: executive versus congressional experience; his foreign affairs experience; how the candidates propose to deal with the deficits; and "some differences in who stood with the president or not."

Without mentioning names, Bush attacked the value of congressional experience. A president has to lead, he said. "You can't move a previous question, delay or appoint a congressional commission." As CIA director, he said, "I made more decisions in one week than in my four years in Congress."

With the Bush organization considered superior in almost all the Southern Super Tuesday states, and in South Carolina, it is unclear which states, outside of Florida, the senator will launch full-scale efforts.

In South Carolina, Dole forces earlier this week suggested their campaign would make less than a major effort, hoping Robertson, who is promising an all-out effort there, would engage Bush and his forces in a major battle.

But yesterday, in Greenville, S.C., Ned Johnson, Dole's South Carolina chairman, insisted that the campaign here is "extremely important," has 5,000 volunteers working and has just sent a direct mail brochure to 66,000 South Carolina households.

Dole cast the South Carolina contest as a test for Bush. If Robertson were to win there, he said, "The threshold {state} would become a trap door for the Bush people," he said.

Staff writer Bill Peterson contributed to this story.