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Bush Isn't Only Candidate To Scribble Personal Notes

GOV. Bill Clinton may be ahead in the polls, but he's apparently taking nothing for granted, reports Monitor staff writer Clara Germani. Even 14-year-old Nick Dierman of Maryland is getting the full treatment from the candidate.

Nick, a student at Washington International School, won the District of Columbia's Geography Bee last spring. In his profile for the National Geography Bee program, Nick wrote that Governor Clinton is his role model because he possesses "both a good personality and a chance for president." The clipping found its way to the Democratic candidate, and he dashed off a note to Nick saying he was "flattered" and hoped the ninth grader would also someday be a role model to someone.

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Nick, in turn, was flattered to get Clinton's letter. "I'm not sure if this makes me a Democrat," he says. But it has gotten Clinton at least one vote. Nick's mother says he successfully "badgered" her throughout the summer to abandon Ross Perot and support Clinton. Who's the taxer-and-spender?

President Bush had trouble winning voters' trust after he broke his 1988 pledge not to raise taxes, reports Monitor staff writer Amy Kaslow. To woo Americans during the Republican convention in August, he even promised an "across-the-board tax cut" for every American.

But just last week, President Bush signed into law a $5 billion tax increase over the next five years, in the form of a new energy bill. Bush detractors aren't disputing the importance of the bill, which uses a host of taxes to offset the costs of offering energy production incentives. They just want to see the president own up to something he's been crusading against: taxing and spending. Of pols and polls

Polls, it seems, are even more ubiquitous than pols during this campaign season. Every constituency and every geographic area imaginable has been surveyed by hordes of pollsters - usually producing wildly divergent results.

At least the latest national surveys tally with each other. The CNN/USA Today poll gives Clinton 42 percent, Bush 31, and Perot 19. The ABC News poll also gives Clinton an 11-point lead: 44 percent to 33 percent, wtih 19 percent for Perot.

In polls of key states, Clinton and Bush are virtually tied in Texas. Perot draws 20 percent in armadillo-land. In Illinois, Clinton leads Bush by a whopping 47-to-25 percent margin. By contrast, in Ohio, Bush has narrowed Clinton's lead but the Democrat is still ahead by 9 points.

Finally, a poll sponsored by the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network found that conservative religious Christian voters - who voted overwhelmingly Republican in 1988 - are now split evenly between Bush and Clinton, 37 percent to 36 percent. Which way the wind is blowing

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You don't have to be a weatherman - or a pollster - to know which way the presidential race is headed. Just look at how Republican Senate candidates across the country are campaigning. In Wisconsin, Sen. Robert Kasten Jr. (R) suggests on the stump that he is a closer to Clinton than his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Russell Feingold. "On taxes, I am closer to Clinton than Feingold is," Kasten declares. Similarly, in New York, Sen. Alfronse D'Amato, another Republican, delares that he is also more allig ned with Clinton than his opponent, Democrat Robert Abrams. Behind the debate

Vice President Dan Quayle tore into his Democratic opponent, Sen. Al Gore, during their debate. Republicans rooted, but what did the Quayle kids think? The two younger Gore girls, Kirstin, 15, and Sarah, 13, are classmates of Mr. Quayle's daughter, Corinne, 13, at Washington's National Cathedral School. The Gore and Quayle kids are friends.

But then so were their fathers when they came to Congress together 16 years ago.

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