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Grant says his congressional campaign is nearly broke

U.S. Senate candidate Bill Grant acknowledged Wednesday his campaign is nearly broke and said he is still trying to persuade a national Republican committee to pump money into his lagging effort to unseat Sen. Bob Graham.

Grant said he is disappointed that the National Republican Senatorial Committee led by Texas Sen. Phil Gramm has not come through with what Grant considered a commitment for up to $1.1-million. But the underdog vowed to fight on against Graham, who has more than $2-million to spend and who began airing his first television commercial Wednesday.

"We got him right where we want him," Grant said, provoking chuckles from reporters. "Our backs are against the wall. We're on our own 3-yard line, it's fourth down and 25, and we're right where we want to be."

"We think this is a classic contest between a wealthy insider politician that's got all the money and special interests in the world, and a campaign that is representing, hopefully, what people are thinking about, that's underfinanced. We can win it with just a little help to get our message out."

Grant said he still has not heard whether the GOP committee will give him money.

"I'm convinced now it's not going to be the full $1.1-million, but I think we're going to get some money," he said. Asked how much cash his campaign has on hand, Grant said "not a lot" after his campaign manager, Richard Pinsky, shouted from the back of the room, "Don't tell them."

With no money and a 40-point deficit in the polls, Grant called a news conference to criticize Graham's new ad. The ad shows Graham in a variety of his workdays and promising new ideas to stimulate the economy.

"He portrays himself as a hardy, blue-collar worker, committed to job creation and fighting hard against the deficit," Grant said. "But like that old piece that used to be in the Sunday comics, there's something wrong with this picture."

Grant said Graham has done nothing to cut the deficit but has proposed programs that would have increased spending by $44-billion.

Graham campaign manager Jay Hakes said the senator has proposed spending cuts. It is true a health program he proposed would have cost money, he said.

The point of the ad, Hakes said, is not to fool people into thinking Graham is a blue-collar worker. He is a former two-term governor, and now he is a senator. "Everybody in Florida, I think, knows that," he said. The workdays, he said, have helped Graham develop legislation and made him more aware of the needs of Floridians.

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