CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ Bob Dole hunted ``Super Tuesday'' votes in Florida by urging a tougher stand on Cuba. He said he could see a light at ``the end of the tunnel'' in his bid for the GOP nomination.


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``Thank you, New York,'' Dole said in prepared remarks distributed by his aides even before the New York primary polls closed.

``In January, Bill Clinton spoke to us from the White House and said, `The era of big government is over.' Tonight, New York spoke to the White House and said, `Yes, and the era of Bill Clinton is about to be over as well,''' Dole said.

``The results tonight are not just a victory for Bob Dole. The sweep in New York is an overwhelming statement of Republican unity. We are a big party with room for many points of view. But we're united behind a single cause: the urgent need to defeat Bill Clinton and return conservative leadership to the presidency of the United States of America.''

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Dole urged President Clinton to seek indictments of those responsible for the deaths of four members of a Miami-based Cuban exile group in the Feb. 24 downing of two U.S. planes off the Cuban coast.

``That's how we got Noriega,'' Dole told reporters Thursday, referring to the prosecution in the United States of the former Panamanian leader.

Dole also told a civic luncheon in West Palm Beach he would consider a woman as his running mate if he gets the nomination. And he adjusted his campaign schedule to campaign in Tennessee on Friday with former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who dropped out of the presidential race on Wednesday.

Florida and Tennessee are among seven states with ``Super Tuesday'' primaries next week that will dole out 362 delegates. So is Texas, where Dole campaigned on Wednesday.

The Senate majority leader scheduled an evening ``victory party'' in Clearwater to celebrate what he hoped would be a big win in Thursday's New York primary.

``I just ask, take a look at all of us. There's not a lot of us left,'' Dole told a luncheon sponsored by the Pundits of Palm Beach, a bipartisan civic group. ``Hopefully we can see the end of the tunnel here. But it's going to be up to states like Florida and Texas and New York today.''

Dole wasn't sounding conciliatory toward either of his two remaining rivals for the nomination.

Responding to Pat Buchanan's vow to take over the Republican convention this summer, Dole suggested the commentator ``needs a little rest, more sleep.''

Dole said Buchanan has to decide whether he wants to be a loyal Republican, a third-party challenger or ``just a spoiler. I think right now it's the latter.''

And he said he wasn't about to make any overtures to Buchanan.

``I'm not going to put my hand out and get it chopped off,'' he said. ``I expect him to meet me half way. If he really wants Bill Clinton for four more years, he can have him.''

Dole's campaign manager, Scott Reed, took aim at publisher Steve Forbes. Reed complained that the Forbes campaign had run negative ads in New York and called on former housing secretary Jack Kemp _ who endorsed Forbes on Wednesday _ to ``call on Steve Forbes to stop these attacks.''

Before the polls in New York closed Thursday, Dole predicted a decisive victory, telling reporters on his campaign plane in Florida that he did not see where either Buchanan or Forbes could make a credible challenge to him now.

Of Buchanan, Dole said, ``If he doesn't get any delegates, I don't see how he stays in. I don't see how he gets any next Tuesday.''

``He's been all over the lot. Last week, he's going to whop Bob Dole and won't support the nominee. Today, he's saying he's going to kick down the door of the convention. I think it's the open-door party ... my view is Pat says he's a Republican ... if he is a Republican, he ought to settle down, sit down, whatever, get on the road and try to determine a strategy to beat President Clinton.''

Asked if his campaign was ready to make overtures to Forbes to try to get him aboard, ``I think somebody ought to call him. I think we'll wait and see what happens (in New York).''

In a relaxed mood, Dole mixed his remarks Thursday with humor.

During a question period in Palm Beach, he was asked if he would consider a woman as a running mate.

He said that he'd considered offering the job to his wife, Elizabeth.

``I thought of that as an economy move. We could shut down the vice president's mansion and save the taxpayers money,'' he said.

Then, he said that he would in fact consider a woman running mate.

``It's going to happen one of these days: You're going to have a woman president. We've always been very progressive in this party.''

Earlier, campaigning in the Little Havana section of Miami, Dole urged Clinton to direct Attorney General Janet Reno to seek indictments against those responsible for the attack by Cuba and to put them on trial in the United States.

``In a Dole administration, we will not cozy up to Fidel Castro,'' said Dole, speaking at a restaurant rally and later at a wreath-laying ceremony for the four men who were killed in the attack.

Dole also spoke at a rally in Orlando before heading to Clearwater, where he was to await the New York primary returns. ``It's time we started focusing on the real battle in November, and that's Bob Dole versus Bill Clinton,'' he said.