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Thursday, March 11, 1999 Published at 03:35 GMT

World: Americas

Dole makes her move

Elizabeth Dole will need massive funding to run for the White House

The wife of the former American presidential candidate, Bob Dole, has announced she is setting up a committee to assess her chances of running for the presidency.

Stephen Sackur: Many say the wrong Dole ran in 1996
If she won the Republican Party's nomination, Elizabeth Dole would be the first woman to fight a presidential election in the US.

Mrs Dole has served in the administrations of five presidents, becoming transportation secretary under Ronald Reagan and labour secretary under George Bush.

Speculation that she would make a bid for the presidency grew in January when she announced her departure from her post as American Red Cross president.

She made her latest announcement in the state of Iowa, whose early caucus votes are influential in the primary campaign.

[ image: Untainted by scandal: She reads the bible for 30 minutes a day]
Untainted by scandal: She reads the bible for 30 minutes a day
"I know a lot about running in presidential campaigns, I have been involved in a lot of them," said the 62-year-old Republican who campaigned for her husband Bob Dole during his failed White House bid.

As she did when praising her husband in the Republican convention in 1996, she spoke from the floor and argued enthusiastically that her experience in government and the Red Cross gave her the background needed for the presidency.

'A plus'

She also sought to capitalise on her gender and her record outside politics:

"Now what would I, as a woman, offer our country? I am not a politician and frankly I think that's a plus today," she argued.

"I place service over politics, consensus over confrontation," she said.

Elizabeth Dole, a devout Christian also known as Liddy, is running behind the Governor of Texas, George W. Bush, in the opinion polls for the Republican nomination.

Mr Bush announced his committee on Sunday.

These committees allow the potential candidates to raise money and build organisations.

BBC Washington Correspondent Stephen Sackur says the race for the republican nomination promises to be a long and expensive haul.

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