- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2000

Steve Forbes will end his Republican presidential-nomination campaign today, he told The Washington Times.
Many of his supporters are expected to switch to Texas Gov. George W. Bush in upcoming primaries in South Carolina on Feb. 19 and California on March 7.
Mr. Forbes, who spent millions of dollars of his own money and campaigned virtually nonstop for the past four years, will officially announce his withdrawal from the Republican race at a press conference in New Jersey this afternoon.
"I am disappointed, but I have no regrets," he told The Times yesterday.
Asked whether he might endorse one of the remaining Republican candidates, Mr. Forbes said, "I haven't even thought of that. All I care about is ending this campaign the right way."
A chief aide to Mr. Forbes said yesterday that antagonism between the Forbes and Bush camps might be a factor.
"Bush's distaste for Steve is palpable, which makes it difficult for Bush to do what he needs to do" to reach out to Mr. Forbes for an endorsement, the aide told The Times.
The Forbes aide, who did not want to be identified, said that some of Mr. Forbes' supporters hope he will throw his support to Arizona Sen. John McCain, "bringing the conservative outsiders into McCain's camp."
In South Carolina, the campaigns of Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain were both angling to capture Mr. Forbes' supporters. But one McCain campaign official said it will be hard for his candidate to get backing from the Forbes camp.
"Most of the county chairmen for the Forbes campaign in South Carolina tend to be religious conservatives and would lean toward Bush more than toward McCain on the right-to-life issue," said Neal Thigpen, former South Carolina elections commissioner and chairman of Mr. McCain's campaign in Florence County, S.C.
But Dee Workman Benedict, South Carolina state board member of the Christian Coalition and a Forbes campaign official, said she hasn't decided whether to back Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain.
"The Christian right in this state is dividing between the two camps," said Mrs. Benedict. "Many of the Forbes-[Alan] Keyes-Gary Bauer supporters are going to Bush because they're terrified of Mr. McCain. They think he's a liberal. Then there is another whole bunch going for McCain, saying, 'We have to stop Bush. Bush can't stand up in a debate with Gore.' Tempers are flaring."
State Rep. Tracey Edge, a religious conservative and McCain supporter from Myrtle Beach, said, "A lot of the hierarchy of the Forbes campaign in this state is going with McCain."
Another senior Forbes campaign official yesterday told The Times that "in California, our voters go to Bush. And Virginia, our voters go to Bush."
The Forbes official said that in the Jan. 24 Iowa caucuses, which Mr. Bush won, with Mr. Forbes taking a respectable second place, "all our votes would have gone to Bush."
But, the Forbes official cautioned, "In South Carolina, a lot of our vote goes to McCain because it's an anti-Bush vote."
The Forbes official said privately that in the March 7 Washington state primary, "our voters will split evenly, with the libertarians going to McCain and the pro-lifers for Bush."
Several pollsters yesterday agreed that Mr. Bush would benefit more than Mr. McCain in South Carolina as a result of Mr. Forbes' departure from the race.
"I would say absolutely the benefit accrues to George W.," said Republican strategist Ladonna Y. Lee. "Forbes had many of the economic conservatives and social conservatives who weren't already with Bush. McCain gets the independents, but as the polling out of New Hampshire showed, conservatives tended to be 'anybody but McCain' voters."
Independent pollster John Zogby said he expects that "for every two Forbes voters Bush gets, McCain will get one." He noted that "while Bush ended up winning among very conservative voters in the New Hampshire primary, he had to share a decent chunk of those with Forbes and Alan Keyes."
Mr. Keyes, the third remaining contender, had begun to outpoll Mr. Forbes in South Carolina, but both men were in the low single-digit range.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Henry McMaster said, "It's hard to tell who will benefit most from Forbes' departure."
Washington-based Republican campaign consultant Eddie Mahe saw the advantage to Mr. Bush as "mainly strategic."
"It allows him to focus his message, and he is better off one-on-one against McCain than trying to cope with Forbes, too," Mr. Mahe said.
Mr. Forbes said in a telephone interview that he made the painful decision on Tuesday, after he learned that he had placed a disappointing third in the Delaware Republican primary, behind Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain.
Asked why he never managed to get significant support this time around, Mr. Forbes, who also had sought the nomination in 1996 and won the Delaware primary that year, said, "I think, truthfully, we couldn't break through the electability barrier."
"Some of us do well on the television screen and some don't, which is why I'm in the print business," the magazine publisher said.
A senior Forbes campaign official said that since the formal inception of his campaign last March, Mr. Forbes has spent about $30 million of his own fortune and another $5 million raised from donors.

Donald Lambro contributed to this report

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