Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole demanded that President Clinton "put up or shut up" on taxes on Saturday as he and chief GOP rival Sen. Phil Gramm engaged in a cross-country sprint for Republican support.
Gramm and Dole shared platforms and traded barbs at Republican events in Florida and Nevada, each portraying himself as the rightful heir to Ronald Reagan's conservative legacy and the man most able to defeat President Clinton next November."I know who I am and I know what I believe in," Gramm said.
They joined with other GOP candidates at both events in a day bristling with Republican campaign activity.
"I won't cut deals with Democrats in Washington D.C. when the future of America is on the line," Gramm told the Western States Republican Leadership Conference in a not-very veiled reference to Dole, who has sought compromise with Senate Democrats on a variety of issues.
Dole, in turn, made less-direct references to both Gramm and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell - who is weighing either a GOP or a third-party bid. But he reserved most of his fire for Clinton.
Dole ridiculed Clinton for a remark at a Democratic fund-raiser in Houston last Tuesday in which he suggested he'd raised taxes too much in 1993.
"When president Clinton was in Houston last week, he got mixed up and told the truth," Dole said to laughter and applause.
Clinton later backed away from the statement and said the 1993 tax-raising legislation was "the right thing to do."
Dole said Congress would soon complete action on a landmark $245 billion GOP tax-cut that Clinton has threatened to veto.
The Kansas Republican said it was time to "put it on his desk (and) tell him now is the time to put up or shut up."
Dole also criticized Clinton on Bosnia a day after Clinton said he would seek the approval of lawmakers before sending any U.S. troops in enforce peace.
"I want the president to make the case to the American people about Bosnia," Dole told the GOP leaders from 14 western states. "Is there any American interest there? How many American troops? And when do we get out. And he has not made that case."
Dole told his audiences here and in Florida that Clinton was trying to frighten senior citizens on GOP Medicare overhaul plans.
"What is President Clinton's recipe? To scare people," Dole told the Florida Federation of Republican Women in Orlando. "Even before Halloween, he's out all over America, scaring people."
The federation holds a straw ballot on Sunday and will also participate in a crucial statewide GOP straw ballot on Nov. 18.