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Romney Clarifies Dole Comments

By Glenn Kessler
CHARLESTON, W.V. -- Gov. Mitt Romney sought today to clarify his comments on 1996 GOP presidential nominee Robert J. Dole, saying "I would love to have Bob Dole's support" and that he respected him as a war hero and "fine man."

Asked about McCain's comments, Romney said that he was only making the point that the nomination should not go to a person out of a "sense of obligation."

"I was trying to say that the selection of our nominee for having served in the Senate a long time and being seen as the person who deserved the nomination did not do well for us in that election," Romney said at a news conference after speaking to a GOP convention here. "It is that aspect, not Sen. Dole, that I was referring to."

He said that there was "certainly nothing but respect on my part for Senator Dole," adding that he believed he had been a contributor to Dole. Later, on his campaign plane, Romney was overheard trying to call Dole, but he did not reach him.

Romney knocked McCain, saying "Senator McCain has proven he will say anything to win this election."

Romney refused to be drawn into a discussion about his expectations for tonight. He said he anticipated there would be pressure on him to drop out if McCain did better in the delegate count, but strongly suggested he would resist it.

"I will look at the results Tuesday night and Wednesday morning along with my team and we will assess what...this tell us," he said. "There are so many different scenarios, so many things that could happen."

He said he would also look at whether Huckabee drops out and the state of his fundraising versus McCain's ability to raise money.

"Based on what we're seeing, I anticipate that this thing is going on a lot longer than just tomorrow," he said.

On Monday, Dole wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh defending McCain's conservative record, and this morning on Fox News, Romney said that Dole was the last person he'd want writing a letter on his behalf.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 5, 2008; 12:51 PM ET
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