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DOLE PREDICTS N.H. VICTORY; POOR FINISH MAY FINISH FORBES

SHARE DOLE PREDICTS N.H. VICTORY; POOR FINISH MAY FINISH FORBES

Bob Dole voiced confidence Saturday that he was pulling away from Republican presidential rivals in New Hampshire but nonetheless launched an aggressive critique of Lamar Alexander's tax record. Publishing heir Steve Forbes opened the door to quitting the race if he fares poorly Tuesday.

As the Republicans sloshed through the snow, they had to share the spotlight with President Clinton, who was out campaigning again even though he faces no major primary opposition."If you vote for me, I won't solve all the problems," Clinton told a boisterous rally in Keene. "I won't give you a miracle. But I will give you progress."

With time running short, the GOP contenders launched fresh attacks and counterattacks, not only on taxes but also over campaign tactics. But the fresh snow on the campaign trail also gave the candidates a scenic backdrop for some traditional hand-to-hand retail campaigning.

Dole and Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, for example, strolled through a hunting and fishing exposition, shaking hands and posing for photographs with stuffed bears and other trophies.

Pat Buchanan, challenging Dole for the lead here, took an impromptu walk through Exeter, although he wasn't completely welcome. "I'm appalled that you are in my town - go away," one woman yelled at the conservative commentator, who complained all day that Dole's campaign was using phone banks to distort his views.

Dole, the Senate majority leader, rode shotgun in a snowplow through the streets of Salem - even paying a courtesy call on an old nemesis, former Gov. John Sununu, the architect of George Bush's successful campaign against Dole here in 1988.

While Sununu said he was staying neutral, Dole was poised to pick up the endorsement of another old foe, Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who dropped out of the GOP race Wednesday. Sources close to Gramm said an endorsement was likely, if not before New Hampshire votes Tuesday then next week when the campaign heads South.

Forbes, campaigning in Nashua, said he planned to be around then but left the door open to folding his bid if he finished a poor fourth here.

"We'll have to see what the result is on Tuesday," Forbes said. But he quickly added, "and then we're going to take our message of growth and opportunity and giving power back to the people to other parts of the country. I think the New Hampshire people are starting to respond."

Dole, asked if he needed to win New Hampshire to keep his campaign alive, said, "I don't have to but I'd like to."

Voicing confidence, Dole said his polling showed him moving ahead of Buchanan, and aides said Alexander had slipped a bit after moving up following his third-place showing Monday in Iowa. Several new public polls were consistent with that, although they showed a highly volatile climate.

Dole barely won Iowa, exposing him as a wobbly front-runner and forcing him to significantly increase his advertising budget for New Hampshire to the point where he actually outspent Forbes in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, Buchanan and Alexander have spent much of the past week on the defensive. Buchanan has had to defend one of his campaign chairmen against reports linking him to white supremacist and militia groups, and Alexander has faced scrutiny of several lucrative investments with politically connected friends while he was Tennessee governor.