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Kennedy set for GOP challenge

BOSTON, May 16 -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is set to fend off likely Republican challenger W. Mitt Romney, as well as attacks on his past and questions about his vulnerability.

With recent polls indicating a majority of voters want a change, the Massachusetts Republican Party this weekend endorsed Romney, a self-made millionaire and son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney.

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Romney still faces a primary fight with businessman John Lakian, who vowed to stay in the race despite efforts of party leaders to get him to drop out and give Romney a clear shot at Kennedy.

Romney was overwhelmingly endorsed by the convention, while Lakian barely received the more than 15 percent he needed to make the primary ballot.

State Treasurer Joe Malone on Sunday endorsed Romney, while Gov. William Weld and Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci said they would remain neutral in the Senate primary.

'I think we all ought to let Mitt run one-on-one with Ted Kennedy,' said Malone. 'Mitt Romney is going to win this primary.

Romney said he plans to campaign on his views and 'the ultimate opponent,' Kennedy.

Kennedy, meanwhile, disclosed his campaign strategy in an article published Monday in The New Yorker magazine.

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Kennedy said he expects never-ending questions about his past personal problems, particularly since this is the 25th anniversary of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in his car on Chappaquiddick island.

He said he is sure the 1991 rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, will also re-emerge to call attention to his past womanizing and carousing. Kennedy has since worked to change his image, marrying Victoria Reggie and vowing to change his ways.

Kennedy told the magazine his campaign will focus on economic problems facing the middle class and universal health care, and he will not allow opponents to drag up personal controversies.

A recent Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll showed 52 percent of the voters in Massachusetts feel that after 32 years in the Senate, it is time Kennedy was replaced.

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