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GRAMM TRIES TO CAPITALIZE ON IOWA TIE

Seeking to capitalize on the momentum he gained in Saturday's Iowa straw poll, an exuberant Phil Gramm returned to New Hampshire seeking to boost his campaign fortunes.

The Texas senator, who tied Sen. Bob Dole for first place in the Iowa poll, was the only candidate to appear Sunday at the Hillsborough County Republican picnic.He downplayed criticism that he and other candidates were buying huge blocks of tickets and importing supporters from other states, which may have skewed the Iowa results. Both he and Dole received 24.36 percent, or 2,582 votes.

"The point is we had a lot of supporters," Gramm said. "We had at least a van coming from every one of the 99 counties in Iowa. We had buses, we asked people to pay to defray the cost. Some people donated more than their cost, others less. But every campaign did that. That's what electioneering is all about."

Gramm said the response of his supporters in Iowa "was overwhelming, and I don't doubt that the same thing is going to happen here."

Gramm has been trailing Dole, the Senate majority leader, badly in most voter polls nationally and in New Hampshire.

Sunday, Gramm's supporters distributed fliers at the picnic that carried the headline "Extra, Extra!!! Gramm Scores Upset in Iowa." On a table containing campaign material, there were charts with the number and percentage of votes for each of the candidates in the straw poll, in big bold letters.

David Carney, Dole's New Hampshire campaign manager, brushed aside suggestions that the straw poll result was an indicator of the "soft support" that some polls have shown to exist for Dole.

He noted commentator Pat Buchanan's trouncing of Gramm two week ago, by a more than 3-1 margin, in a straw poll conducted by the Granite State Taxpayers Association in New Hampshire. Dole did not participate.

"Iowa has their race, and we have our own, and I don't think it has much impact," he said.

Even so, Carney said, "It makes you work harder and not take anything for granted, which is our modus operandi as we continue the campaign here in New Hampshire."

Dole, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," said, "We didn't invest any campaign money. We didn't go out and buy a lot of tickets. We're going to save our resources for the main event next February. You know, some candidates put a lot of money into this - this was make or break for some of them. And you know they did all right."

Gramm, for his part, said, "I think people in Iowa know and respect and love Bob Dole, but I think they are ready for a change."

Dole knows from experience not to take these events too seriously. In the straw poll in Iowa in 1987, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson upset Vice President George Bush by winning the contest. Dole, who came in second in that vote, also beat Bush. And while Dole went on to win the actual caucuses, he ultimately lost the Republican nomination to Bush.

Gramm said he went into the straw poll believing that he was in a race for second place. He credited the results to a mass mailing of campaign material to supporters, which was a first time his campaign had done that.