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DOLE SAYS A BUCHANAN VICTORY COULD LEAD TO BIG LOSS FOR GOP

SHARE DOLE SAYS A BUCHANAN VICTORY COULD LEAD TO BIG LOSS FOR GOP

Sen. Bob Dole, casting his campaign as a crusade to stop extremism in the Republican Party, asserted Thursday that a victory by Pat Buchanan could rob the party of its hard-won control of Congress.

"Bob Dole is not some sort of fringe candidate. If you want a polarizer, I'm not your candidate," Dole told a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in this community south of Denver.Dole continued his sharp attack on Buchanan, the conservative commentator who won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, saying, "I've always had a reputation of trying to bring people together."

He said a Buchanan nomination would so divide the GOP and the nation that "we would be lucky to hold on" to Republican control of Congress and the party's majorities in U.S. statehouses.

In Denver, meanwhile, Buchanan was rebuffing fresh charges of extremism from Colin Powell. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who last year flirted with running for president, said he couldn't vote for Buchanan, even if he won the nomination.

"I think we have to have a message of inclusion . . . that recognizes that we are the leader of the world that wants to be free," Powell said Wednesday in an ABC interview. "We can't pull up our drawbridges and withdraw back into our own continent."

Buchanan maintained that his trade and jobs platform would bring home to the party the jobless working class - "and many of them are minorities."

"I'm not in the business of weeding anybody out of the Republican Party," Buchanan said.

The commentator was to take part in a candidates' forum Thursday night in Arizona, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander and publisher Steve Forbes also planned to appear, but not Dole. The latest poll shows Dole and Forbes barely leading Buchanan in Arizona, with more than half of voters undecided.

Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, with his money and support low, decided to sit out primaries during the next two weeks. Lugar, saying he has no plans to get out of the race, scheduled a news conference Thursday in Washington to outline his plan to focus on New England's regional March 5 primary.