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Poor ol' Dole.

After piling up endorsements from the GOP establishment and soaring so far ahead of his Republican presidential rivals as to become the all-but-presumptive nominee, Bob Dole had to go and have a birthday.He's how old?

In case anybody missed Dole's 72nd birthday, Time magazine helpfully devoted a cover story to the "age issue." People in grocery checkout lines around the country have been prompted to ponder the question in bold black letters on the cover. "Is Dole Too Old for the Job?"

Then, the World War II hero finally got to stick it to the draft-avoiding president on foreign policy, but did ol' Dole get to savor the moment?

Not quite. The same day Dole outmaneuvered President Clinton on lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia, USA Today reported that for the first time its polling found that Clinton would beat Dole if the election were now.

With Clinton at 50 percent and Dole at 44 percent, the contest wasn't even close.

By Marsha Mercer

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