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BENNETT TO SUPPORT DOLE FOR GOP'S '96 NOMINATION

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, will support Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole for the GOP presidential nomination.

Dole, R-Kan., announced Monday his third run for the presidency. Bennett, a freshman senator, said Dole has the steady hand at the tiller and the experience and maturity to run a good campaign, win the nomination and win the presidency next year.Bennett said Dole has personally been gracious to him, giving Bennett key assignments in the now-GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, including the important task of coordinating the Republican health-care reform package.

"It is a great advantage to have run, and lost, a presidential race before," Bennett told the Deseret News editorial board Tuesday. "Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush all ran and lost once before winning. It seasons you." Dole ran and lost in 1980 and 1988.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich has captured the political debate in the country, but it will take a "mature, experienced hand" like Dole's to get the American people to feel good about all the coming Republican changes. "Dole is very secure today, relaxed. He isn't mean-spirited, although he does have an acid wit," said Bennett.