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DOLE ASSAILS CLINTON ON CASTRO

Bob Dole, promising a fight for Florida on Election Day, started by getting tough on Fidel Castro and accusing President Clinton of coddling the Cuban leader.

In brief but pointed remarks Sunday at the Cuban Independence Day festival in downtown Miami, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting said Clinton would "rather sacrifice U.S. interests than risk offending a Cuban dictator."Without offering specific plans, Dole played to his predominantly Cuban-American audience of 2,000 by promising that history books would record that "under President Bob Dole, Castro's house of cards came tumbling down."

In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Dole needs to clarify how he intends to remove Castro, "whether he was planning armed invasion or continuation of the policies that the president supported."

"It may be different from the president's policy, or it may be identical to the president's policy," McCurry said Monday. "We don't know."

Dole was crossing Florida Monday to tour a privately funded education facility outside Tampa where fifth-graders in the Pinellas County schools learn to operate their own businesses.

The tour, preceding a fund-raising stop in Tampa, was meant to position Dole opposite Clinton as a proponent of private-sector solutions to social problems instead of "big government" programs.