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Lugar Touts Role in Defending School-Meals Programs

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Washington

As the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana was instrumental last year in defeating a House GOP proposal to convert the federal school-meals program into state-run block grants.

Now, in an effort to distinguish himself from the other Republican presidential candidates, Mr. Lugar is featuring his zeal for the popular entitlement program in a 30-second television advertisement.

Mr. Lugar says in the ad that "great pressure was placed upon me" by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia and the front-runner for the GOP nomination, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, to back the change.

"I indicated to them what they ought to do is drop the school-lunch program from welfare reform," he says. "It provides for many kids the only nutritious meal they get each day."

The commercial alternates with a spot highlighting Mr. Lugar's support for the ban on assault-style weapons. The ads feature his "common sense" approach to governing, according to a campaign spokesman.

Illinois businessman Maurice "Morry" Taylor Jr., perhaps the least visible of the GOP candidates, reportedly endorsed cigar smoking and mimicked a girl's speech impediment during a recent visit to a Durham, N.H., middle school.

Teachers and students at Oyster River Middle School told The Associated Press that Mr. Taylor suggested smoking cigars and said that the nation's "most endangered species is a white, male American."

And when one girl stuttered while asking a question, he said, "sp-sp-spit it out of your mouth," according to a letter two students sent to a local newspaper.

Mr. Taylor later told Cable News Network that he did not recall the stuttering incident.

As for the cigar statement, he said it was a response to a question about the legalization of marijuana.

"I said, 'If you want to puff on something, puff on a cigar,"' he told the network. "And I said, 'They stink."'

A poll commissioned by the National School Boards Association found that 64 percent of Americans say education is a "very important" issue to them when it comes to deciding whom to vote for in a presidential election.

Nineteen percent said education was "somewhat important," while 14 percent said it was "not very important" or "not at all important" in making a choice for president.

The poll also asked potential voters to name the candidate who "would do the most for education."

President Clinton was chosen by 44 percent of those polled. He was trailed by the following Republican hopefuls: Senator Dole, picked by 24 percent; Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, 8 percent; publisher Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes Jr., 6 percent; and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander, 5 percent. Three percent opted for "none of the above"; 10 percent said they didn't know.

The Wirthlin Group, a polling firm based in Mc Lean, Va., surveyed 1,000 adults over the age of 18 between Jan. 19 and Jan. 22. The data were released early this month.

Individuals employed in K-12 or postsecondary education have contributed more than $280,000 to the re-election campaign of President Clinton, a study has found.

That amount, which includes individual contributions of $200 or more from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 of last year, ranks education ninth on a list of the top 10 employment groups donating to Mr. Clinton's campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington-based research organization that studies the role of money in political campaigns and policymaking.

The group analyzed 83,000 contributions to all the declared presidential aspirants for 1996.

Lawyers and other law-firm employees topped Mr. Clinton's list, the study says, with contributions totaling more than $2.5 million.

Only one other candidate, television commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, has received enough contributions from the education field for it to rate among his top 10 donors.

The $10,700 he has received from teachers, administrators, professors, and others ranks eighth on Mr. Buchanan's list.

For more information, call or write the Center for Responsive Politics, 1320 19th St. N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 857-0044.

--Robert C. Johnston & Mark Pitsch

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