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Political activists say Iowa is not fertile soil for Hart comeback

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Gary Hart's second plunge into the 1988 presidential campaign has caused a ripple in Iowa - but hardly a favorable one. In this early caucus state, where organizing party regulars is considered the key to victory, former Hart campaign supporters are not flocking back to his campaign.

``Gary Who?'' jests Lorraine Voles, a former Hart worker who is now press secretary for Democratic hopeful Michael Dukakis.

``We're proud of what we did for Gary,'' adds Patrick Mitchell, a former Hart official who is now Iowa coordinator for Democratic contender Paul Simon. ``But we're 100 percent for Simon. ... We look forward to waging a campaign against him.''

Hart, a former United States senator from Colorado, was widely considered the front-running Democrat last spring. But he withdrew from the race following news reports of a liaison with Miami model Donna Rice. In announcing his decision Tuesday to reenter the race, he did not mention the incident. But it may dampen Hart's prospects of winning over voters.

Certainly that appears to be so in Iowa, which next February will provide the first real test of the candidates' popularity.

Hart had 29 percent support -- more than any other candidate -- in a nationwide USA Today-Cable News Network ``instant poll,'' but 41 percent of those surveyed Tuesday said he should not have re-entered the race.

[Also, a New Hampshire survey conducted by KRC Communications Research for Boston's WBZ-TV and the Boston Herald, had 53 percent saying Hart should not be a candidate.]


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