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While Symington hasn't copied a page from the Bush-Dukakis campaign by asking Goddard what he would do if someone raped and murdered his wife--since the ex-mayor hasn't got one--he has gone out of his way to question Goddard's manhood.

During their first postprimary debate, Symington peppered his comments with references to family, home and hearth nine times during the first few minutes. He also responded to a question on abortion by noting that he "wouldn't expect [Goddard] to necessarily understand my feelings as a father about that issue." Such tactics can backfire. For this comment, Symington got a round of boos.

Remarks like that one have left a lingering ill will between the candidates. There seems to be a genuine animosity between Symington and Goddard that moves beyond the usual campaign rhetoric. When asked if he had real resentment toward his opponent, Goddard chuckles and says, "Is it that obvious?"

No one disputes Terry Goddard's intelligence, but his detractors say he falls short when it comes to political deal making.

"He can't even fully work with members of his own party on the campaign," a GOP activist says of Symington.

The two pretenders are somewhere in that huge gray area between Mecham's bully mentality and Mofford's milk-and- cookies approach.

Symington is viewed by one GOP staffer as "Mecham with his shoes shined.

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Darrin Hostetler