Bob's best buddies
Dole won his party's nomination by developing a much wider base of contributors than his Republican opponents -- and using it to wear them down, one by one.
Because of the "front-loaded" character of the primary system, which forces candidates to purchase enormous amounts of media time early in the race, a well-heeled candidate can sometimes literally win by losing, in the durable style of the old Russian army: Just pile up resources, and keep hanging in there until everyone else has to drop out.
As a senator from Kansas, a major supporter of farm exports, and a longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee (which functions rather like a high tribunal of tolls, taxes, and levies), Bob Dole commanded the GOP's equivalent of the Russian army. Until recently a champion of fiscal orthodoxy, he had many friends on Wall Street, in houses such as Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch. While essentially a free trader, he had -- like Clinton, but unlike his GOP rivals Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, or Phil Gramm -- moved to accommodate big business' increasing demand to pursue American commercial interests more aggressively. This flexibility paid big dividends: Despite a long courtship from the Clinton administration, top officials of all three automakers ended up contributing to Dole's campaign.