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In Colorado, Forbes Eyes New York Suburbs

March 1, 1996

DENVER (AP) _ Steve Forbes’ presidential campaign was thinking ahead to its next ``opportunity state″ _ New York _ even as the multimillionaire publisher dashed across Colorado on Friday looking for Western votes.

As the millionaire publisher spoke to junior high students, Denver shoppers and Republican stalwarts here, his campaign was readying a selective media blitz for New York City’s populous suburbs.

``I think we’re going to do very well in New York state on Thursday, which has a huge block of delegates at stake,″ Forbes said during a stop in Fort Collins. ``That’s what we’re keeping our eyes on.″

An official with the Forbes campaign said it would concentrate its ads on the predominantly Republican suburbs surrounding Manhattan. Much of upstate New York, believed to be a stronghold for conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, would be bypassed, he said.

New York holds its primary on Thursday, when 93 of its 102 delegates will be decided.

Forbes denied he was conceding any state among 22 state primaries set for the next 10 days, including South Carolina, which votes Saturday. Forbes said Sen. Bob Dole had support of South Carolina’s political establishment but promised ``a credible showing″ nonetheless.

``This contest won’t be settled in one contest or a few primaries as it has in the past ,″ he said. ``That’s why we’re in for the duration.″

Forbes strategy, according to campaign officials, has evolved into ``cherry picking,″ selecting likely successes among the flurry of primaries over the next few weeks.

The campaign has already had success in so-called ``opportunity states″ like Delaware and Arizona and has aimed much of its attention on New York. Forbes is scheduled to be in the state through the weekend, with quick side trips to Georgia and Connecticut, which vote on Tuesday.

The strategy in these states and Colorado, which also votes Tuesday, includes high-profile one-day tours and limited bursts of advertising. Forbes’ ad campaign in Colorado wasn’t scheduled to begin until Friday night.

While his strategy may have evolved, Forbes’ message remained the same as he scurried up and down Colorado’s population corridor, a growing flotilla of reporters and camera crews trailing in his wake.

He walked through the lunch-time crowds in downtown Denver, shaking hands, signing autographs and ignoring the Clinton and Dole signs at the edge of the crowd. He talked with shoppers at the Tabor Center shops about taxes and school vouchers and lunched at a food mall with local supporters, eating a Whopper for the horde of cameras surrounding his table.

Earlier, he swapped questions with a ninth grade civics class at Parsons Junior High, a shiny new school in suburban Fort Collins.

Forbes asked students about school uniforms, drew a collective groan and impassioned arguments against the idea. He asked about the temptation of drugs and received a moving lecture from 14-year-old Shawna Warburton, who blamed parental indifference and peer pressure.

``Sometimes your friends become your family and you feel you have to go along,″ she said.

When Forbes was asked why he is running for president, he gave the students an equally heartfelt primer on hardball politics.

``Politics is a body contact sport and the referee is never there when the elbows are flying and the piling on starts,″ he said. ``It’s days like this, talking with real people, kids and adults, that make the whole process worthwhile.″

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