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FORGET THOSE 35 D.C. YEARS: DOLE'S A TRUE HEARTLAND MAN

There is now a "new" Bob Dole who has taken the place of the "old" Bob Dole from the Senate. I wanted to speak to the new Dole, and one of his handlers told me, "You'll find him in a Pizza Hut on Miracle Drive in Topeka, Kan."

I found the new Bob Dole, wearing a bathing suit, sitting in a booth surrounded by four of his new supporters who had come on board his campaign when he resigned as Senate majority leader.He shook my hand and said, "I hate Washington."

"Everybody knows that. How does it feel to be relieved of all your senatorial responsibilities and no longer be inside the Capital Beltway?" I asked him.

"It feels good," he said. "I was part of the Washington establishment for 35 years, and I realized last week that during all that time I was losing touch with the people."

"And now that you're a private citizen you can run as an independent Republican and no longer be obligated to the lobbyists and big interest groups."

"I am now running as Bob Dole - a simple man from the heartland who hates government and all it stands for."

"But aren't you going to miss the power?"

"I've never sought power - that's why I'm running for president. If I am elected, I want people to say, `He gave up the most powerful job in Congress so that he could spend the weekends with his wife at Camp David.' "

"But if you are elected, will you govern?" I asked.

"If I am elected, it means that the voters don't want big government and they don't want taxes and they don't want welfare and they certainly don't want air bags in their cars. Once I am able to abolish the federal government, I will spend all week at Camp David."

I couldn't help noticing how calm and at peace Dole was. He wasn't like the old Dole, constantly scowling and lacking the fire in his belly.

"Where is the old Bob Dole?" I asked him.

"He's cleaning out his office and telling everyone back in Washington that he was double-crossed by the media who insisted on printing his age every time they printed his name."