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Republicans Push North For President

July 13, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Oliver North has the qualities America needs in the White house, says a small group of Republicans who are launching a campaign to draft the Marine lieutenant colonel for president.

″The people I’ve had contact with are acting enthusiastically about it. I had 120 bumper stickers made up and they were almost all gone in only a few hours,″ Robert K. Arundale II, self-appointed chairman of the North for President Committee in Illinois, said Saturday.

″He’s got patriotism and intelligence, and the kind of doer that he is would be perfect for the presidency,″ Arundale, a businessman and former township auditor, said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban St. Charles.

The campaign began Wednesday, the day after North, a former National Security Council aide, began his congressional testimony on the Iran-Contra affair.

Arundale said the group has five active members in Illinois, and members also in Texas and New Mexico. But he said his group didn’t want to embarrass North and would halt their campaign if the Marine officer asked them to do so.

North said last week that he has no political ambitions.

Others not connected with Arundale’s group have also gotten into the act. In Hattiesburg, Miss., real estate agents Lavelle Dragula and Burnelle McMahan put an ″Ollie For President in ’88″ sign in front of their offices.

″He’s done such a great job testifying,″ said Dragula. ″He’s strictly all-American and he represents our country well.″

And in Danville, Ind., which President Reagan visits Monday, a sign in front of a motel proclaimed ″Welcome President Ronald Reagan″ on one side and ″Col. Oliver North for President″ on the other.

In Oklahoma City, about 100 people showed up for a rally Friday night at the state Capitol to show support for North, waving signs reading ″North in ’88,″ ″We Love Ollie,″ and ″Get Off Ollie’s Back.″

Bumper stickers that read ″Ollie North For President″ have been distributed to Tulsa, Okla., service stations and restaurants by Gerry Neal, a wholesale oil distributor.

″If we had to vote for president today, not knowing anything more about anyone than we do now, and his (North’s) name was on the ballot, I’d vote for him,″ Neal said. ″And I think a lot of others would, too.″

A New York Times-CBS News survey found that an overwhelming majority pf Americans say they believe North is telling the truth about the Iran-Contra affair.

In his testimony last week, North admitted he had lied to Congress in earlier appearances but said it was done to save lives. He also said that he had not acted independently but with the support of his superiors.

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