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Some People Think Now is the Time for a Woman to Become President

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RALEIGH — With all the controversy swirling around Washington this year, some say now is the perfect time for a woman to step into the oval office.

But if Elizabeth Dole does throw her hat into the ring, she has a long road ahead of her.

"In this important time in our national life, I believe there may be another way for me to serve our country," said Dole.

In stepping down as president of theAmerican Red Cross, Dole hinted she may pursue a bid for president of the United States.

The Salisbury native andDukegraduate is already building momentum in her home state where supporters launched a "Draft Dole" campaign last week.

The effort is led byFood Lionpresident Tom Smith and former governor Jim Holshouser. But, Dole will need broader support to become a viable presidential candidate.

"The key is that she's got to win friends all across the country, and 1999 will be a critical year. She'll have to raise money and put together a campaign organization," said Sam Currin of theN.C. Republican Party.

"This kind of reminds me a little bit of when everybody speculated that Colin Powell was going to run. You looked at the polls, and there was a 70 percent approval rating," saidN.C. Stateprofessor Andrew Taylor.

Taylor says being a woman could help Dole distinguish herself in a crowded Republican primary.

She also has appeal as an "outsider," someone who is removed from the impeachment scandal in Washington.

"Although she does have the experience in the Reagan and Bush administrations, she has not been in Washington for eight years. She can run as somebody who's headed a successful organization," said Taylor.

Dole says she will make a decision by March.

She is also considered a strong candidate for the vice-presidential nomination.