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Dole Jokes About Fall; Says He Was Trying to Do the Macarena

September 19, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole today used humor to shrug off his fall from a California campaign stage, telling a rally that he was really trying to dance the Macarena.

``First, I want to say, don’t be afraid of standing close to the stage. I’m not going to dive off today,″ Dole said to laughter and cheers from a crowd of several hundred at a rally today.

``I was trying to do that new Democratic dance, the Macarena. I’m not going to try that any more,″ Dole said of the new dance craze.

Dole appeared in fine shape today, shaking hands and waving to the audience. Campaign spokesman Nelson Warfield said Dole noticed only a small bruise on his left ankle from the mishap Wednesday in Chico, Calif. Redness in his left eye had already faded some, Warfield added.

Asked by reporters how voters should view the fall, Dole said, ``They ought to think, boy, that guy’s agile, he’s young, he goes after ’em, he’s tough.″

But even he acknowledge it could have been worse.

``It’s a wonder I didn’t get hurt there,″ Dole had said after falling more than three feet from a stage. ``No big problem.″

President Clinton was asked today about Dole’s tumble. ``I hope he’s OK, Clinton said while campaigning in Seattle. ``I understand he is,″ the president added.

Dole, 73, was reaching out to supporters’ outstretched arms when a decorative white railing that was not secured to the stage gave way. ``As I said, we’re going after every vote,″ he quipped.

His fall to the ground was broken in part by photographers, and he quickly got back to his feet and resumed shaking hands.

Dole’s only complaint was a small amount of blood in his left eye, which he believes might have been caused when his left hand brushed the eye as he fell.

After he arrived in Las Vegas, Dole was examined by an eye doctor who said there was no internal injury and amounted to a minor scratch ``on the lining of the white of his eye.″

Ophthalmologist Rudy Manthei told reporters he administered eye drops, gave Dole a non-prescription painkiller and wrote a prescription for an antibiotic and for an anti-inflammatory medicine.

``It’s like if you wore contact lenses and you got a little scratch in your eye,″ Manthei said.

The doctor said it could not be determined if the blood in Dole’s eye came from the fall directly or from Dole scratching his eye, but said that he thought it was most likely from the fall.

Warfield said Dole decided not to seek any further medical attention, though long-time Dole aide, Sheila Burke, who also is a registered nurse, had given him a brief examination.

``There were no bruises, no black or blue marks,″ Warfield said.

On his campaign plane to Las Vegas, Dole looked at pictures of the fall, which press photographers showed him on their laptop computers.

``I’m feeling fine but I want to see your little slide show,″ Dole said. He said ``Yikes!″ when he saw the photo of himself being helped up by Secret Service agents.

Upon viewing the first photo of him going over the railing with a grimace on his face, Dole quipped, ``My hair stayed all right _ enough hair spray.″

Dole, who has no use of his right arm as a result of a World War II injury, joked about the accident in his speech. ``I think I just earned my third Purple Heart going over the rail. I guess you could say I took a spill for Chico. I just went over the top.″

Asked if the fall meant he’s had a bad campaign day, Dole said, ``No. I got up, didn’t I?″

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