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Bauer expected to bow out of GOP race today

Gary Bauer, the religious conservative who crusaded against abortion, sharply criticized human rights abuses in China and claimed to be the only real Reagan Republican in the race, is expected to end his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination today.

Bauer received only 1 percent of the vote in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and finished fourth out of six GOP candidates in last month's Iowa caucuses. He did not resume campaigning after New Hampshire but returned to his home outside Washington and set an announcement for today.

His expected departure from the GOP field follows seven others _ Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander, Patrick Buchanan, Bob Smith, John Kasich, Elizabeth Dole and Orrin Hatch _ and removes one of the most passionate moral messengers and pungent debaters from the race.

It was unclear whether Bauer would endorse Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Bauer raised about $7-million through a network of small donors, but he never could compete with the wealthy Steve Forbes, whose message in 2000 was targeted much more at social conservatives than it had been in 1996. Forbes did better than Bauer among Iowa's conservative Christian voters.

Candidates turn to ad blitz

The presidential campaign is shifting from town halls to television sets as candidates trade the retail campaigning of Iowa and New Hampshire for a multistate advertising blitz.

Over the next month, candidates must woo voters in nearly two dozen states _ including expansive and delegate-rich California and New York _ forcing them to rely more on pricey 30-second spots than handshakes.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, flush with record-breaking cash reserves, is already on the TV airways of seven states with GOP primaries this month. Sen. John McCain has ads up in the next two biggest prizes _ South Carolina and Michigan. Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley, meanwhile, are conserving resources before unleashing a torrent of ads closer to their next primaries, on March 7, when 15 states vote at once.

The Democrats are each prepared to spend some $5-million _ assuming that Bradley doesn't take Gore's challenge and give up ads altogether, which would dramatically change the nature of the race.

Bush and McCain already have spent about $1.5-million in South Carolina. But Bush, who is not accepting federal money, does not have to live within spending caps and could unleash a torrent of ads if he is at risk of losing.

On the trail today

Bradley holds a rally at the University of Maryland. Bush campaigns in Michigan before returning to Texas for some rest over the weekend. McCain campaigns in South Carolina before flying to Los Angeles for a fund-raiser. Forbes campaigns in Delaware, which holds its Republican primary next Tuesday. Keyes will be in South Carolina.