WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former American Red Cross president Elizabeth
Dole has decided to drop out of the rapidly shrinking Republican
presidential field, citing an inability to raise enough money to
compete with front-runner George W. Bush, The Associated Press
Two sources close to Dole, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said Dole would announce her departure from the presidential race
today in Washington.
"When the money becomes the message the process is
diminished," Dole said in a draft of her remarks provided to The
She did not plan to endorse any GOP candidate, the sources said,
though they did not rule out an endorsement at a later date.
The first woman to mount a top-tier presidential campaign, Mrs.
Dole's campaign attracted new voters -- particularly young and
professional women -- to the Republican Party. She finished strong
in an early political contest -- Iowa's non-binding straw poll in
August -- and displayed a practiced polish on the campaign trail.
But the wife of 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole was
unable to overcome the huge financial advantage of Bush, the Texas
governor who raised more than ten times as much money as Dole in
1999. She also was unable to convert the raw enthusiasm of her
rallies into improved poll ratings.
Her departure leaves Bush, Arizona Sen. John McCain and
conservative millionaire Steve Forbes in the top tier of the GOP
field. Four other candidates are vying for conservative voters,
including Pat Buchanan, who plans to bolt the GOP on Monday to seek
the Reform Party nomination.
McCain said he was sorry Dole had decided to withdraw from the
presidential race, but that she had done so for the "wrong
reason" -- money woes. "The right reason is because you've lost
the battle of ideas," he said.
Forbes spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss welcomed the narrower
field. "Fewer people talking means more of an opportunity for
Steve to talk about what he believes in," she said.
Dole's race for the White House came to an end just less than
three months after a surprisingly solid third-place finish in
Iowa's straw poll. The finish gave her a chance to boost her
campaign, which was already sagging in polls and money-starved.
She was unable to capitalize. In the most recent campaign
spending reports, Dole reported raising more than $1 million from
July to September. By comparison, Bush raised $20.2 million during
the same period.
Though second place in many national polls -- hovering around 10
percent -- she was trailing McCain in New Hampshire and lagged well
behind Bush elsewhere.
Just last week, Dole fought off rumors of the impending demise
of her campaign by announcing that she would formally kick off her
campaign on Nov. 7. She said she hoped that date will turn into the
anniversary of her election to the White House.
"It's exactly one year before the first presidential election
of the new millennium and our selection of that date reflects my
sense that we will make history," Dole said in a release.
A source close to the Dole family said the former senator "was
the last to reach the conclusion" that she should leave the race.
He had scoured his network of GOP stalwarts, including many Bush
supporters, to ask whether she should stay in and to seek help
In a conference call with her financial team this morning, Dole
calculated her odds of winning at 75-to-1. "I've got to be honest
with myself and the people on this call," she said. "You simply
have to have money to compete."
At the White House, spokesman Joe Lockhart used the news to
criticize the GOP. "It underscores at least among Republicans how
little the ideas mean and how much the money means," he told
On Tuesday night, Dole canceled a campaign appearance in
Indianapolis at the last minute. A campaign official said Dole was
ill, and a letter faxed to Indiana GOP Chairman Mike McDaniel
referred to "unforeseen circumstances" that prevented her
In March, when she formed a presidential exploratory committee,
Dole explained her reasons for seeking the White House this way:
"I believe our people are looking for leaders who will call
America to her better nature. Yes, we've been let down, and by
people we should have been able to look up to."
Dole, 63, earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University
in 1958 and a master's degree in education from Harvard in 1960, as
well as a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1965.
She married Bob Dole in 1975.
Dole started in the Democratic Johnson administration as a
consumer advocate and worked in the Republican Nixon administration
as a Federal Trade commissioner. When Ronald Reagan was elected
president in 1980, she was appointed to head the White House Office
of Public Liasion. The position serves as the link between public
interest groups and the executive branch.
In 1983, President Reagan appointed Dole transportation
secretary. She was sworn in by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the
first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. Dole herself was the
first woman in Reagan's Cabinet and the first female transportation
In September 1987, Dole told President Reagan she was resigning
to help with her husband's 1988 presidential campaign. George Bush
beat Bob Dole for the Republican nomination and went on to win the
presidency over Democrat Michael Dukakis. When Bush took office in
1989, he named Dole his labor secretary.
In October 1990, less than two years after taking office, Dole
resigned as labor secretary to become head of the Red Cross. News
reports at the time said she had little clout at the White House
and most policy decisions were made by Chief of Staff John Sununu.
Dole denied any frustration.