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Sun and a Hot Dog As Dole Preps For Clinton Faceoff

September 27, 1996

BAL HARBOUR, Fla. (AP) _ A hot dog lunch was all that drew Bob Dole from his oceanside condominium Friday as he prepared for next weekend’s debate with President Clinton.

The Republican presidential nominee kept mostly to the sunny, 12th floor balcony of his vacation apartment. But there was no lazy sunbathing, aides were careful to stipulate.

``The naked eye may think he’s sitting in the sun boiling like a lobster when he’s really thinking like a fox,″ spokesman Nelson Warfield said as Dole began his four-day stay here armed with a stack of briefing books.

With just nine days to go before the faceoff, Dole is hoping his performance next Sunday in Hartford, Conn., will help tighten the race with Clinton.

In khaki slacks and shirt sleeves, the candidate ventured downstairs just once Friday, spending 25 minutes on lunch at Millie’s, the poolside hot dog stand. He said nothing to a pack of reporters who were barred from the private property and watched him from the beach.

Warfield said Clinton’s winning 1992 campaign gave him a leg up. ``Bob Dole has never been in a presidential debate, so we have to work to make up for that advantage,″ Warfield said.

Dole spent a combined 35 years debating policy on the House and Senate floors and unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination twice before. He has frequently joked that expectations for his performance against Clinton are so low that he wins just by showing up.

Policy aides Dennis Shea and Sheila Burke, both veterans of Dole’s Senate staff, were on hand to pepper the former lawmaker with facts and figures _ and try to anticipate the issues Clinton will hit in the 90-minute televised forum.

Earlier Friday, Dole briefly telephoned a meeting of the National Federation of Republican Women in Bloomington, Minn., thanking members for their voter turnout efforts.

He planned just two campaign daytrips next week _ to Cleveland on Tuesday and Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday _ before returning to his Florida condo for final debate cramming and dress rehearsals with a Clinton stand-in.

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