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News Briefs, part 1

Quayle Drops Out of '96 Presidential Race

The Washington Post

Former Vice President Dan Quayle unexpectedly dropped out of the 1996 presidential race Thursday, setting off a scramble for his conservative support and heightening speculation among Republicans that other candidates may now join the field.

Quayle's surprise decision came just three weeks after he laid out a clear timetable for declaring his candidacy. Friends and advisers said his sudden change of heart reflected his conclusion that he had fallen well behind the fund-raising and organizational pace of his rivals and that catching up would be enormously difficult and personally grueling.

Aides said the decision had nothing to do with Quayle's recent medical problems, including blood clots and a rare benign tumor found on his appendix.

"We were convinced that a winning campaign could have been accomplished and the necessary funds could have been raised," Quayle said in a statement issued in Indianapolis Thursday afternoon. "But we chose to put our family first and to forgo the disruption to our lives that a third-straight national campaign would create."

Quayle's decision to abandon the race underscored the demands of the front-loaded primary calendar of 1996 and the belief among many Republicans operatives that candidates will need to raise $15 million to $25 million by early next year to be competitive.

Several Conservative GOP Senators Seek Foster's Withdrawal

Los Angeles Times

Several conservative Republican senators Thursday called on President Clinton to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster Jr. as surgeon general, saying concerns have broadened to encompass doubts about Foster's credibility because the number of abortions he says he performed keeps rising.

Another GOP senator, Phil Gramm of Texas, said he is "vigorously opposed" to Foster's nomination and vowed to "do everything I can" to defeat it. He said Foster has become "too divisive" a figure to serve as surgeon general.

Complaints about Foster's credibility represent a shift in the line of attack by his opponents. Instead of emphasizing his record as a physician who performed abortions, critics are now asking why the number he says he conducted keeps rising.

The new strategy gives his opponents a less risky way to fight the nomination. By citing questions about the number of procedures he performed, Republicans can avoid attacking him directly for participating in abortions.

As Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., put it: "There is a litmus test here. And it's not abortion. The litmus test is the truth."

Astronauts Take Cold Spacewalk

The Washington Post

Two spacewalking astronauts got a chilly reception in the void beyond their spaceship Thursday, exposing their fingers and toes to such cold that ground controllers decided to cut short their planned work agenda.

"Sounds like we put you in the deep freeze today," Discovery pilot Eileen Collins told the spacewalkers toward the end of a deliberate chill-out designed to evaluate recent modifications in the $10-million space suits. She was assisting them with checklists by radio from inside the shuttle.

"It was like putting my fingers in the liquid nitrogen freezer," responded spacewalker Mike Foale. NASA officials said the experiment showed they will have to further modify the suits' thermal controls.

Shortly after they began their four and one-half-hour spacewalk just before 7 a.m. EST, Foale and crewmate Bernard Harris, the first black astronaut to take a spacewalk, rode the shuttle's 50-foot remote control arm out of the cargo bay and into the harsh environment some 35 feet out from the ship.

Their goal was to approximate the working conditions that will greet spacefaring hardhats attempting to construct an international space station in orbit, beginning in 1997. NASA spacewalk training specialist Gerald Miller said temperatures at the orbital construction site will actually be "somewhat colder."