Dole's Home Town Says, `Run, Liddy, Run'
Posted January 22, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
SALISBURY — The Draft Dole movement picked up steam at the historic Salisbury train station Saturday, where more than 1,000 supporters rallied around the hometown girl they call Liddy.
"I've known Liddy Dole for about 35, 40 years and knowing as much as I do about her I think she'd be great as president," says Hank Palmer, a friend of Elizabeth Dole.
Powerful supporters likeFood Lion's Tom Smith and former governor Jim Holshouser took the stage amid a sea of red, white and blue signs.
State Senator Betsy Cochrane openly addressed Dole, saying, "This nation needs you and our party needs you."
It was a spectacular show, orchestrated to tell Elizabeth Dole they want her name on the ticket in 2000.
"I think her honesty and her experience in public service is outstanding," says Dole supporter Mary O'Connor.
There is also a lot of political maneuvering going behind the scenes. Over the past two months, Dole's supporters have been on the road in key states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where early voting will be crucial in the GOP primary.
"The one message I'm getting is that they feel you are the one person who can bring unity -- not only to the Republican Party -- but to the entire nation," says Earl Cox, draft Dole campaign manager.
The object of all this affection was not at the rally to enjoy it. Federal law forbids draft organizers from even talking to Dole. But they hope she will get the message, and declare her candidacy by February 1.
Dole recently stepped down as president of theAmerican Red Cross. Her supporters say that is a positive sign that she is considering a presidential campaign.
Not everyone at the rally was in support of Dole. Members of a Topeka, Kansas, church lambasted Dole for what they called her pro-gay stance.