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Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 00:22 GMT 01:22 UK

World: Americas

Bush confirms presidential bid

George W Bush greets supporters at Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Richard Lister reports from Washington

George W Bush, the son of the former American President, has confirmed that he intends to stand in next year's presidential elections.

Mr Bush, who is the Republican Governor of Texas, had made little secret of his intentions and the opinion polls show he is strong favourite to win the presidency, even though the election is still a year-and-a-half away.

Arriving in the Mid-Western state of Iowa aboard a plane named 'Great Expectations', George Bush said he intended to be the next President of the United States.

With the help of his father's nationwide influence and contacts, Mr Bush has been able to raise far more campaign money than his Republican challengers and with his brand of compassionate conservatism he is expected to be his party's choice for presidential candidate.

But George W - he dislikes being called George Junior - is approaching this campaign with caution.

Still no official declaration

His aides said he won't make a formal announcement of his candidacy for several more months and his trip to Iowa, a key state in next year's candidate selection process, was his first campaign foray outside Texas.

But his strategy of maintaining a relatively low profile has whetted the appetite of American journalists, some 200 of whom are accompanying his trip.

Opinion polls put him at least 10 points clear of the likely Democrat nominee, Vice President Al Gore, who will make his own campaign swing through Iowa next week and is expected to formally announce his own intention to run for the White House.

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