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Ironically, it was not a loss but a victory that seems to have dealth the telling blow to George Bush's longshot campaign for the GOP nomination. After discovering $300,000 less in his campaign coffers than he thought he had, Bush had counted on his victory in the Michigan primary to bring in much-needed funds. But Michigan was eclipsed by Reagan's apparent winning of enough delegates for the nomination. With the die cast, Bush followed the advice of many of his own aides and threw in the towel May 26.

"The important thing," he told a news conference after sending congratulations to Ronald Reagan, "is that the Republican Party be united to save our country from President Carter's weak and leadership."

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The presidential race leads through a bureaucratic thicket for third-party candidates. John Anderson is in the middle of it -- but making enough progress that he is ready now to hit the campaign trail.

Anderson has handily petitioned his way onto presidential ballots in all six states where petition deadlines have come since he went independent.

Last week his lawyers sued over early deadlines in Ohio and Kentucky -- two of five states where Anderson missed deadlines. The Illinois congressman also joined an already-successful suit by the Socialist Workers Party in West Virginia to ease ballot access for non-major party candidates.

Anderson is also considering a legal challenge to the federal laws giving Democratic and Republican nominees $29 million each in campaign funds and other candidates nothing.

"Everyone in each of the eight states with June 3 primaries, through some combination of media advertising, news coverage, campaign appearances and campaign workers, will have been exposed to three messages [from the Kennedy campaign]."

So says James Flug, national spokesman for the Kennedy organization. The messages the Kennedy prople want to put across are that the incumbent presidency is responsible for the nation's foreign and domestic problems; that Kennedy has specific programs to employ against these problems; and that the race is not over.

While Flug says media strategists don't want to "telegraph their play" to the opposition, he estimates Kennedy's advertising budget in primary states "usually ranges from one half to one fourth of what carter-Mondale spends."

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According to The New York Times, Carter is concentrating on the Ohio primary to cut back Kennedy clout at the convention and is outspending Kennedy four to one in that state with a hardhitting media campaign.m

Ted Kennedy, calling the President's policy "a pale carbon copy" of Reagan's, said last week that Carter may come in third behind Reagan and Anderson in the general election.

According to current public opinion soundings, however, Kennedy would also be a loser. In a Reagan-Kennedy match-up, Reagan would garner 52 percent of the vote to Kennedy's 29, according to a poll released late last week by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. A Gallup poll earlier gave Reagan the same percentage and Kennedy 37 percent. Neither of these polls factored in Anderson.

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