AIKEN - Being the underdog suits U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis.
Mr. Inglis, a third-term Republican from Greenville, S.C., stumped Thursday in Aiken as part of his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C. He is the only announced Republican candidate.
"It would be foolish of me to think this won't be a huge challenge," said Mr. Inglis, calling his opponent a "political machine" and dismissing rumors that he would pull out of the race if former South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell decided to enter.
"The only difference in this race and in 1992 is that I was 18 points behind with two weeks to go and it was the first time I had run for a political office," Mr. Inglis said."In this race, according to the latest poll, I'm only 13 points behind with a year left to campaign."
In 1992, he defeated incumbent Democrat Liz Patterson, daughter of former U.S. Sen. Olin Johnston, for the 4th District congressional seat.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll taken for state news organizations said Mr. Inglis trails Mr. Hollings 44 percent to 31 percent.
The survey also revealed that Mr. Campbell would handily defeat Mr. Hollings if he ran in the 1998 race for U.S. Senate. The former governor, the poll said, would get 51 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Mr. Hollings.
Mr. Campbell has repeatedly said he would announce his plans in January after his contract with the American Council of Life Insurance expires. He is the council's president and chief executive officer, earning more than $1 million a year.
While in town, Mr. Inglis showed off his bright red mobile campaign office, dubbed the "The Spirit of South Carolina." A huge photo of Inglis is pasted on both sides along with the slogan, "A New Senate: Finally, Someone's Listening."
The recreational vehicle is fully loaded with three telephones, a fax machine and a public address system.
"This is a grass-roots campaign and this office gives us what we need to stay in touch with the people," the Bluffton, S.C., native said. "This gives us three things. There's no down time and it gives us an instant-event location."
In remarks to Thursday's meeting of the Aiken Kiwanis Club, Mr. Inglis said his campaign is strictly about a new Senate, calling for term limits, abolishment of political action committees and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.
"I want to make it so that an incumbent doesn't make a cozy situation in their cozy little districts," he said. "That's what Hollings has been able to do in his 32 years in office and that's why it's going to be tough to beat him."
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